Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category


How often in life do you get to know you are experiencing profound change in history.  Yesterday was that day.

I’ve been somewhat muted about the political landscape, offering who I was voting for and a profile on leadership but not much else.  I’m not enamored by politics as a mechanism for change in the traditional sense.  I’m not looking for the politics to change my world.  But yesterday was different.  And here’s why.

Yesterday was about freedom.  It was about releasing people from oppression that has been the legacy of this country for far too long.  When the United States was created more than two hundred years ago, the founders chose not to address the issue of slavery.  They didn’t want to take on too much too soon.  But over the history that choice has haunted us.  True change, which is always best expressed in releasing people from some form of oppression, has been slow in this area.  My own parents got to see the deep segregation and lynchings of the South.  That legacy has lingered.

Yesterday was not about ending all oppression. Obama will not be the end all to be all as President.  It was about planting the seed that cannot be removed.  This was a moment we can forever look to in the future and say, “It is possible.”  We as a nation have always led the world in this regard.  In retrospect, it was inevitable that we would be the first, first world power to do this.

Richard Dreyfuss was interviewed by Mike Huckabee and he captured what yesterday was about for me.  He said,

“There’s a curse that mankind has lived with for 12,000 years. And it’s known so well that nobody ever has to talk about it.  And the curse is that you and yours will never rise.  You are a serf and your children and your grandchildren will be serfs.  And my heal will always be on your neck.  Until America said, “Wait a minute.  If you can get here, if you can take the stuff that life throws at you, if you work hard, and are lucky, you might rise.”

Yesterday we saw a barrier broken that has never happened before.  For the first time we saw the hard ceiling of oppression that has followed the African American community, (and minorities in general) be broken.  The most powerful image for me last night was not Obama’s speech but the weeping of those in the crowd.  They knew that we were part of history.

Yesterday was about speaking deeply into the dignity of everyone who has ever felt stepped on and pushed down by “the man”.  It was and will be that moment in history that people will be able to look at and say, “Yes We Can.”  And like Richard said, it has always been what made our nation great.  Yesterday we reiterated that so loudly.  This is a large reason why I have chosen to stand behind Barack Obama.  I chose to side with healing and restoration as opposed to a single issue.

My hope for the next four years lies not in changed policy.  It lies in the possibility of new dreams and new opportunities that will suddenly be available simply because someone has now already tread that ground.  Roland Martin on CNN said last night for the first time he could look at his daughter and say, “Yes you can be President.”  That is a release from oppression.

Colin Powell had a great interview and said, (Obama) wanted to be a transformational figure and bridge the gap between generations.” I would also add that he will become a symbol for racial reconciliation.  I think it’s easy to forget that Barack is half white.  We miss that when we look at him.  He is the bridge to restoring our racial relationships because neither side can claim him exclusively as their own.  He’s both.  This bridge will help us come together.

And I know there are those who will say, “but politics is not the answer to our problems.”  And I agree with that statement.  Jesus was the first reformer.  But his mission was about restoring the dignity of human beings and restoring relationship.  Yesterday that happened. It just happened on the political stage.

There will also be those who say, “Obama is not the answer to our problems.”  I also agree with that statement.  But history happens through people.  It happens through our social construct.  And God works through humanity to fulfill His purposes.  My hope is that those who chose not to vote for Obama will begin to see the bigger picture of what this election accomplished from a restorative standpoint.

I appreciated Obama’s own words that started it all, and which became a symbol for unity. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America.    There is not a black America, and a white America, and a latino America, and Asian America. There is the United States of America.”  That symbol of unity requires sacrifice and thinking outside of ourselves.  This call to responsibility, to work with Obama to create change has been what captured America.

Some have assumed Obama has captured everyone into some kind of spell. I would offer that this misses the larger response that happens in revolutions, which almost always happen at the grass roots level.  This was an election that allowed people to find the soul of what made America great.  We have always been about the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden.  We just expressed that in a very big way yesterday.

As a follower of Jesus I have chosen to participate in the end of any form of oppression.  I have chosen to follow in the footsteps of the man who actively identified and stood with the lowly, the poor, and the outsider.  Yesterday was one of those days when I got to cast my vote and say, “I stand with you.”

As a side note: Some guy created a font for Obama.  It’s quite interesting.  Check it out.


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Congratulations Obama! Soak it in.

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Dear Mr President,

Today you will be chosen to lead what many call the most powerful position in the world.  With this comes responsibility to lead.  I can only assume that in your running for President you have chosen to accept responsibilities for leadership. So with that I would like to ask you to consider the following possibilities for leading in this brave, new, wired world:

Lead With Love: As President the world will be watching you.  In ever move you make, ask the very simple clarifying question, “How would I want to be treated?” Leadership begins with love.  It means providing an example for the world to follow.  And love, which is begins with seeing and holding the other person’s dignity, is the highest ideal.

Ask Us To Be Responsible And Then Give Us Responsibility: The world is waiting for the most powerful leader to give away power. Help us see a vision for a better America, one that includes lifting our neighbors up, having faith in each other, and being the creative individuals we are.  Invite us to participate in our own growth and maturity.  Invite us to take responsibilities for our neighborhoods, children and schools.  Show us the value of turning our backs on greed as a mechanism for growth.

Live In The Moment: Don’t pretend you are a savior so you can get elected.  This could be the most important four, or even eight years, of your life.  You have the chance to lead with a sense of abandon.  If you act in the moment with wisdom, not worrying about what will happen in 2012, we will almost assuredly vote for you again.  But if you pretend to be the our savior, you’ll just be like every politician who sold out.

Give Us A Vision: You have the opportunity to think like a visionary.  Give us HUGE problems to dream about and solve and then let us solve them.  What would it look like to solve issues like Aids, clean water, and third world poverty.  We are the nation of entrepreneurs. We have the creativity and the resources.  Will you give us the initiative?

Be Honest: Shoot us straight.  We can handle the truth.  We may not like it but it’s easier to handle in the long run once we’re over the initial shock.  The truth just works better.  The truth is we can tell when you’re lying anyway.  And when we can’t John Stewart will eventually find out and you’ll look silly.

Don’t Forget The Impoverished: Will you be the President who restores compassion to the Presidency?  One of the best ways to do that is to begin with the poor.  Show the world what it would look like to think about the least of these in a way that is not patriarchal but restorative.  Help our brothers in poverty rise above the muck and mire and restore their dignity.  We need you to take a stand against those who oppress the poor, the sick and the widow.  Fight for the dignity of those who can’t fight for themselves.

Show Us How To Sacrifice: Ask us to think beyond ourselves but also show the world how.  This country was built on sacrifice and it has always been what made us great, not just as Americans, but also as human beings.  To sacrifice is to love and become the best of who we were designed to be.

Cross Lines: Show the world what it means to come over the traditional lines of “us” and “them” so we can discover “we the people”.  It’s just too easy to focus on what separates us.  Help us see and participate in what brings us together and a people.  Invite us to cross lines so we can become a more whole people who rise above our own self interests.

Mentor Other Leaders: Spend time with the Fortune 500 leaders of America asking them not just how they can create new jobs here but also how they can use their power in ways that create a better future.  Call them to move beyond greed and selfish abandon and to a more meaningful future of love and sacrifice.

Lead With Courage: Take courageous risks that will both succeed and fail.  But at least try.  Think outside the box and reveal to the world once again why we are the nation that once led the world.

Please consider these requests as you begin looking towards the next four years.

Much love to you.



This post is part of a Synchroblog on Leadership.  The following blogs took part in the experiment:

Jonathan Brink – Letter To The President

Adam Gonnerman – Aspiring to the Episcopate

Kai – Leadership – Is Servant Leadership a Broken Model?

Sally Coleman – In the world but not of it- servant leadership for the 21st Century Church

Alan Knox – Submission is given not taken

Joe Miller – Elders Lead a Healthy Family: The Future

Cobus van Wyngaard – Empowering leadership

Steve Hayes – Servant leadership

Geoff Matheson – Leadership

John Smulo – Australian Leadership Lessons

Helen Mildenhall – Leadership

Tyler Savage – Moral Leadership – Is it what we need?

Bryan Riley – Leading is to Listen and Obey

Susan Barnes – Give someone else a turn!

Liz Dyer – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Polls…

Lionel Woods – Why Diverse Leadership is Good for America

Julie Clawson – Leadership Expectations

Ellen Haroutunian – A New Kind Of Leadership

Matt Stone – Converting Leadership

Steve Bradley – Lording or Leading?

Adam Myers – Two types of Leadership

Bethany Stedman – A Leadership Mosaic

Kathy Escobar – I’m Pretty Sure This Book Won’t Make It On The Bestseller List

Fuzzy Orthodoxy – Self Leadership

Sonja Andrews – Leadership In An Age of Cholera

Tara Hull – Leadership & Being A Single Mom

Glen Hager – Election Day Ponderings On Leadership

Beth Patterson – Leadership:Being The River

Bill Ellis – Spiritual Leadership And The Rehumanizing Of Our World

Liz Dyer – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Polls

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Just a reminder that the Leadership Synchroblog is coming this Tuesday to coincide with the Presidential election.  Send me your links by Monday night if possible.


From Previous Post:

This November 4th marks a profound opportunity in American history regardless of who takes office to the Presidency. And this focus on leadership got me thinking. What if we got together and had a Synchroblog on leadership. There’s already a group on board but I wanted to open this up and ask if anyone else wanted to participate. If you are interested let me know.

The focus is not on the Presidency but on leadership. This is your opportunity to speak to those who lead and let them know what you are looking for. The context can be in politics, family, the church or to any leader you want.

Please join us. Leave your name in the comments and I’ll add you to the list. The post will be due on November 4th and will include a list of those participating.

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This November 4th marks a profound opportunity in American history regardless of who takes office to the Presidency. And this focus on leadership got me thinking.  What if we got together and had a Synchroblog on leadership. There’s already a group on board but I wanted to open this up and ask if anyone else wanted to participate.  If you are interested let me know.

The focus is not on the Presidency but on leadership.  This is your opportunity to speak to those who leads and let them know what you are looking for.  The context can be in politics, family, the church or to any leader you want.

Please join us.  Leave your name in the comments and I’ll add you to the list.  The post will be due on November 4th and will include a list of those participating.

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I wrote a blog post over at Thrive.  Here’s an excerpt.


At Thrive, we encourage what we call, “open hand leadership”.  It is the idea that we are stewards of what God has given us, but at any moment we may be called to surrender a part or a whole of what has been given.  In many ways this has been liberating.  There is something infinitely more rewarding that comes from nurturing and stewarding something as opposed to trying to control it.  But recently I had an experience that reminded me that this practice must continually be revisited.

A couple of weeks ago, my tribe went on our Q7 retreat.  The week leading up to the retreat we participated in an exercise designed to speak wholeness into our lives.  It was simply spending 30 minutes listening to how Jesus saw me. And during this exercise I asked him what I was being called to do.  With my eyes closed, the only image I was given was of my hands.  That’s it.  Nothing more.

Read more here.

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What would a true organic church that empowers its people to act effectively look like?

Two posts hit me today.  The first was from Alan Hirsch who pointed out the 12 Traditions in AA on how they run an organization. The list is rather extraordinary in how it gives out power and shuns control:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

AA is one of the most successful organizations in the world because they give away power.

The second post was from Seth Godin who pointed out what happens when a system is broken.  He asks a powerful question:

Stuff happens in every organization that has a system. You can’t eliminate it. The question is: what do your people do when they see ‘broken.’ What do you encourage/permit them to do?

Both of these posts got me thinking.  Do we give away power in the church?  And do we allow people within the church to fix what is broken when they see it?  And if we did, what would that look like?

Your thoughts.

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