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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.

Jonathan

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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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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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“And I, I won’t lie. I won’t sin.” – Letters To God, Box Car Racer

I resonate with that line.  It was in many ways an anthem of my childhood life.  When I was young I grew up in a church that told me that growing up meant, “not sinning”.  This mantra had a surprising affect of placing the dominant interest of my life on myself.  I was always worried that I was sinning.  And as wounded as I was from stuff in my life, I was deriving much of my love from others by being the “good” kid.  I truly didn’t want to sin.  I wanted goodness in my life.

“I won’t sin,” has a surprising way of destroying relationships.  It creates a strange paranoia that drove me to wonder if I had done something I shouldn’t.  I was always wondering had I said something or done something when someone gave me a look.  I was in reality a co-dependent, attempting to draw my identity and validation from those around me.  I was needy.

But as I grew older in age something didn’t jibe with what I had been told as a child.  Was life really about not sinning?  Or, could it be something else?  For about ten years I simply walked away from that statement.  Not sinning, simply didn’t work.  And truth be told, I sucked at it. In fact, the harder “I” tried, the worse I became, and the more I proved it out.  I couldn’t.

As I grew older I began to read the research of people like Piaget, Kohlberg and Erikson who suggested a far different interpretation of what maturity is.  Maturity is the ability to think outside the self and recognize the world around us.  It means to grow out of dependence to an interdependence.  Maturity was, in essence, love.  It startled me that scientists from Harvard could come to such a simple conclusion.

But what this means is that the primary assumption actually drove me to the exact opposite of what was intended.  Focusing on the sin created a myopic approach on the problem and not the solution.  I was destined to fail before I ever began.

And so I began to ask, “Is there something to this invitation to love?”  Could my own restoration be wrapped up in beginning to look outside myself?  Love calls us to maturity.  It calls us to the very essence of our humanity, which is to reflect the very nature of God: to love.  And at that moment, I began to see everything different.  The law, which always led to love was not about “not sinning”, but about embracing love as the defining act of my life.

Jesus’ command to love wasn’t just something I had to do, but something I got to do.  And if I followed, my own restoration was at hand.  But to get to love I had to surrender to the reality that I couldn’t.  At 37 that wasn’t hard to do.  I had enough evidence to convict me of my inabilities.  I was a fraud when it came to “not sinning”.

Much of my fear was always derived from the idea that God could not love me unless I was good enough.  But what I now realize is that God’s love is not defined by what I do but by who he is.  And that love was validated by the undeniable evidence of the cross.  This was incredibly good news.  He has never stopped loving me, even when I break myself.  And that left me with the question of whether or not I would accept his love.  Would I allow him to love me?

And when I surrendered to being loved, I realized a startling truth.  Love would change me from the inside.  And the more I received His love the more I could reflect that love to the world around me.  And the cool thing was there was no law against love.  It was extraordinarily perfect.  By loving, I could accomplish the very thing I had attempted to do my whole life.  And this love became my pathway to maturity.

Love called me to step over my obstacles and fight my way through chaos.  It called me to restore my broken heart and broken relationships.  It called me to the best of myself by finding those God was calling me to love.  It called me to be the Good News.

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This post is part of a Synchroblog on maturity.  Below is a list of participants.

Phil Wyman asks Is Maturity Really What I Want?
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with “Watching Daddy Die
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with “what’s inside the bunny?”
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with “Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories”
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with “the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with “Maturity and Education
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with “Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity”
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with “Old Enough to Follow Christ?
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with “Intentional Relationships for Maturity
Susan Barnes at A Booklook with “Growing Up”
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with “Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind’s Eye with “Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with “What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with “post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa
Steve Hayes at Khanya with “Adult Content
Ryan Peter at Ryan Peter Blogs and Stuff with “The Foundation For Ministry and Leading
Susan Barnes talks about Growing Up
Sound and Silence considers Inclusion and Maturity
Kaiblogy with Mature Virtue

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Spiritual Poverty

What would you say is your most valuable possession, the one thing you wouldn’t trade for the world?

When I was in college I didn’t have any money and I remember the feeling of wanting a car, any car.  At one point I remember thinking I’d trade anything for it.  But when I got that car, I no longer wanted it because honestly it was a piece of crap. So what changed?

My perception.

When I was five, twenty-five cents was a lot of money.  When I was fifteen, twenty-five dollars was a lot of money.  When I was twenty-five, twenty-five thousand dollars was a lot of money.  When I was thirty-five, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was a lot of money. Again what changed was my perception.  And what surprised me was that the more money I had, the more money I wanted.  What I had was never really enough.  Consumption is what we’re taught to do, right?  But I noticed the older I got the more it began to fail me.  Money didn’t really satisfy me.  It simply allowed me to choose my problems.

Did I want a high mortgage?  Did I want a larger car payment?  Did I want to keep up with the Jones’?

When I made the choice to follow Jesus, I began to recognize how much He simply wasn’t as consumed with money as I was.  In fact he was likely to ask me to give more and more of it away.  Kind of backwards from what I have thought all a long.  Instead he placed a premium value on my soul.  This was interesting to me.  I began to ask why.  And then I read verses like this:

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26)

And I began to ask if I had traded my own soul.  And to be honest, I had.  Money meant security, but that very security seemed to cut me off from those around me.  With money I could build bigger fences.  I could avoid the distinct truth of how I had cut myself off from relationships. My own stuff had blinded me to the reality of my own brokenness.  Wealth allowed me to refuse to see what had been imprisoning me.  If I needed a pick-me-up to feel good I just went and bought something.

Jesus began to teach me to give generously, which seems really stupid at first.  What could possibly be served by giving the money away and typically to people I didn’t know.  But what surprised me is that giving generously and even blindly had its way of putting me in touch with who I really am.  I am designed in His image.  I am designed to love.  And money has a distinct way of taking care of people’s needs in a very real way.  It’s very pragmatic that way.  And when I began to give, I began to connect to something deeper. In the giving I began to receive a very different gift, my own soul.

And if I have a soul…that means everyone has a soul.  And if mine is valuable…then everyone’s is valuable.

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This post is part of a Synchroblog on poverty.  A list of participants is below:

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Adam Gonnerman: Echoes of Judas
Cobus van Wyngaard: Luke: The Gospel for the Rich
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Steve Hayes: Holy Poverty
Jonathan Brink: Spiritual Poverty
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Jeremiah: Blessed are the poor… churches…
Alan Knox: Boasting in Humiliation
Miss Eagle: Poverty and the Hospitable Heart
Jimmie: Feeding the Poor

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In April, I hosted a similar synchroblog that asked a very similar question, “What does missional living look like to me?”  My answer was very simple.  It means, “Meeting God Where He’s Already Working.”  And this answer begs the question, “What then is God doing?”  The foundations of this can be found in Missio Dei, or God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation.  The mission was voiced in the words of both Isaiah and Jesus, when they said,

“The Spirit of the lord God is upon me. For he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus came to restore and to reconcile.  He came to bring people back into relationship with their Creator, their Father.  He came to reveal the Imago Dei, or what humanity and the Father looked like.

The question is then, “Will we participate?” Will we engage the inward journey to restore our own soul, to participate in our own healing?  Will we take the risk to discover how much God really, really does love us?  Will we cast off the lies that hold us captive so that we can become the new humanity?  Will we learn how to surrender, to follow, to let go of our isolation and loneliness?

And will we take the risk to discover trust and love, to begin embracing our own maturity and wholeness?  Will we practice meeting God in the moments that need love, so that the world may discover what we have discovered, that we are worth it?

To do so is discipleship, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus into His mission.  It is to bring participate by following the lead of the Holy Spirit into the restoring the world around us. It doesn’t require a license or ordination.  It doesn’t require 10,000 people or a mega-church.  It requires love, which is a fruit of His Spirit.

And it usually does not begin on the other side of the world, or in some famous fashion.  It usually begins right where we live, with our families, and with our neighbors.  It means tearing down the walls that separate us as human beings.  It means taking the risk to let go of the victim role, or the anger that perpetuates the role of perpetrator.  And once we do we “get to” participate in our own humanity, in our own restoration…and the restoration of the world around us.  We get to see what is good, what is right, what is true, what is Jesus.

As a side note:

There is always backlash when something new comes around.  The word missional is apparently now reaching “chic” proportions.  Several people have expressed that this the word missional is being overused.  Why are we suddenly concerned that we’re overusing the word?  I would offer that just the fact that we’re using the word is almost an entirely new thought process in the Christian culture.  Twenty years ago, it meant you were someone who went to Africa on a missions trip.  It was limited to the specific group of people who went over “there”, the people we framed and hung on the wall in the foyer or lobby.

Will some people get it wrong? Sure.  But I would rather people use the word than not.  I trust in the conversation, as we are doing now to inform those who get it mixed up. And just because we used the word “the” every ten to twelve words doesn’t mean its overused.  It’s means its useful.  Missional is useful in our postmodern context.

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This post is part of a missional synchroblog put on by the Blind Beggar.  Here are the participants:

Alan Hirsch Alan Knox Andrew Jones Barb Peters Bill Kinnon Brad Brisco Brad Grinnen Brad Sargent Brother Maynard Bryan Riley Chad Brooks Chris Wignall Cobus Van Wyngaard Dave DeVries David Best David Fitch David Wierzbicki DoSi Doug Jones Duncan McFadzean Erika Haub Grace Jeff McQuilkin John Smulo Jonathan Brink JR Rozko Kathy Escobar Len Hjalmarson Makeesha Fisher Malcolm Lanham Mark Berry Mark Petersen Mark Priddy Michael Crane Michael Stewart Nick Loyd Patrick Oden Peggy Brown Phil Wyman Richard Pool Rick Meigs Rob Robinson Ron Cole Scott Marshall Sonja Andrews Stephen Shields Steve Hayes Tim Thompson Thom Turner

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Because I am on vacation, I realized that I didn’t get time to organize this month’s Missional Synchroblog.  Rick Meigs is organizing an alternative that we can participate.

We’ll continue next month.

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If you would like to participate in this months Missional Synchroblog, let me know below. This months question is: Why Am I Missional?

Feel free to explore this question in your own way. One of the things I loved about the previous responses was the diversity. There is no right answer…just the real answer.

Updated Posting Date: May 19th

This is a four month project. You are welcome to participate as you can. The first round of posts was awesome. You can see the list here.

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