Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Gyon   Leave a comment

I have no idea if I have spelled it correctly. I also have little faith that it is an actual word. All I know is that I have heard it a lot over the years, and to this day I am unsure what it means. Language and dialect tend to do these things to us. They separate us and cause us to look at each other differently, sometimes cocking our heads and wondering what on earth the other person is trying to communicate with us.

For example, my Aunt Joan was notorious for using this word, “gyon.” She pronounced it (as I have heard others) much like it is spelled (or at least my attempt at it): a hard “g” followed by “yahn.” She used it much where I would use the word “darned.” If I wanted to know where something was and she was unaware, she would reply, “Gyon if I know.”

I remember countless times asking her what that word meant. Mind you, I would often get the same statement in response, “Gyon if I know.” This is not helpful. I can imagine the day of Pentecost where all of the disciples were speaking languages unknown to them. The people were justifiably amazed at this. There were rumblings among the people, some saying the disciples were drunk. My imagination does not have to work hard to visualize my aunt as one of the disciples that day. I can easily see someone coming up to her and asking how she is speaking in their language. I can even hear her voice as she would utter her response, “Gyon if I know.”

Bless her heart.

What was true when I was growing up is still an issue in some churches today. There is a language barrier between those who have been in church all of their lives and those who are just beginning to explore what church is all about. Church folks will use church words and the explorers just scratch their heads and wonder what language they are hearing or question if they’re still in the same galaxy when they walked through the front door that looks strangely like some portal. They came in, sat on our hard benches, and noticed how some folks appeared to not get “bleacher butt” like they did because the “from here” folk were used to the discomfort. Then someone spoke from a podium with thees and thous and confused the heck out of their children.

I suppose that I will never understand how and why some of God’s really good folks insist on speaking a language that other folks–especially those seeking something incredibly important–will never understand. But if anyone ever asks me why I think this is still the case in some circles, I know what my response will be.

Gyon if I know!

Overflow Leadership   Leave a comment

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

I grew up at the end of the age of full-service service stations. My Dad and his brother co-owned one and I could not wait to be old enough to work there. When I turned 13, I was finally given my opportunity. With training on the cash register and gas pumps, checking tires and oil levels, I was placed in charge of the gas customers. There was one rule I had to live by in front of all others–when the bell rang to indicate a vehicle had pulled in to get gas I was never to walk to provide their services.

Principle: Whenever you serve others, RUN!

That principle guided much of my work life for several years, especially whenever customer service was involved. Anyone who had a need was served as quickly as possible because they were the most highly valued person on earth at that moment. While that is a wonderful principle for service, the methodology needs some tweaking for those serving in ministry.

Much of the service of a ministerial leader is built upon the spiritual health of the leader. The better their connection with the Divine, the more authentic the service they provide. This is true for more than professional clergy; it applies to all those who serve others in God’s name and is easily applied to all who serve in caring capacities.

The key to offering relevant service is in how we serve, not necessarily how fast. Pastors can tell you that if they “run” every time someone in their congregation needs some form of pastoral care, they will burn out sooner than later. Yes, there are times when running is appropriate, but to do so as a regular practice often comes from an unhealthy sense of duty, as if you are being graded by your speed. When this occurs, it’s as if you are serving God because of a debt.

You do not owe God anything.

The best way to serve one another is not to see how quickly you can react, but how authentically you can respond. If leaders are to be true vessels for the Lord, then we must do what it takes to ensure we are being filled. Cars don’t get far on empty tanks (or batteries, tipping the cap to electric tech here). Leaders do not serve effectively when drained.

Lead from your strong connection with God. Do everything it takes to tap into the strength God gives you because of how you relate with God. Your connection is uniquely yours, so do whatever practices work best for you, be it meditation, prayer, Scripture/Lectio, silence, etc. Whatever it is that best fills you with the Presence, allow God’s love to flow through you. This is done with great joy because you know that what you are sharing is God’s gift of love for everyone in your path.

The best service you can offer to others comes from overflow and not obligation.

A Note from a Sinner   Leave a comment

A Note from a Sinner:

I wish I was a perfect, sinless man. But I am not. I wish I was a perfect pastor. But I am not. I wish I had no evil thought ever to run through my mind. But they do. I wish I learned not to be judgmental. But at times, I cannot help it. I wish I had perfect leadership skills. But I do not. I wish I had unfailing moral values. But I do not. I wish I spent more time in prayer and meditation. But I do not. I wish I was a model Christian. But I am not.

Therefore, just like you, I am a sinner living under an unfailing grace that I do not deserve but gladly accept.

brown book page
Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Folks whom I serve know that I am no “Bible thumper.” I am not a literalist, Pharisaic leader who asks people to live like me, talk like me, or believe like me or at least how I say you’re supposed to. I do everything in my power to help people turn to God in all things, period. I work at this daily in spite of not doing so to perfection.

As a fellow “work in progress,” I am deeply saddened by some events of yesterday. In a time of complete unrest, violent means were used to clear out people standing in peace for a photo op. A Bible was held in front of a place that has not seen that visitor since the day of swearing-in. I find this deeply insulting.

As an imperfect being trying to do my best for the Lord in spite of my failures, I find it challenging at best to understand this action. Why wasn’t this Bible opened? Why weren’t words of assurance and peace from these Scriptures shared? Why aren’t the values that fill the book proclaimed and portrayed?

Many are referring to this as a publicity stunt. I’ll let history tell that story and make those judgments. I know the person holding that Bible is very much like me, a non-perfect, sinful man. I will not judge him, that is not my job. But I will stand for my faith and for God’s holy word.

Please, in everything you do, keep the sacred, well, sacred. Do not use God’s word, God’s house, or God’s name in any way that does not bring honor to God. In all you do, let the light of Christ shine in and through you. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves” (NRSV). Today, I want to do a better job of living that way. Even if I do not do so to perfection, it does not give me an excuse to not try.

I wish I was a perfect, sinless man. But I am not.

Love, Pep

Easter 2020   2 comments

Forced Sabbath   Leave a comment

image.pngThere are times when circumstances force you to rest. The present crisis is doing precisely this for many around the world. As one who advocates for good self-care, particularly for clergy, I have mixed feelings over what I’m about to say. Read the rest of this entry »