In his book, “a life having and doing enough”, Wayne Muller points out and reminds us that: “There are few real, authentic emergencies that require our immediate, life-saving response. So why is this important? Because more and more people presume unlimited access to our lives, our homes, our time. Those who want something from us expect us to give it to them. They assume that if the have our possible contact information, we should respond…If our time, our privacy, our choice to create our own schedule is neither a right nor even a privilege, soon our own lives are none of our business but rather are the business of anyone who has access to us…”
Are you the one who send a message to your friends or colleagues and expect them to make response instantly? I have always people that I am not always beside my phone and I won’t able to answer the phone and check my message all the time. I do not make response immediately does not mean that you are less important. I do need a break or what I have been doing is equally important and I need to deal with it at first.
When I am reading “Just for today” (one of the textbooks for the Narcotics Anonymous group) this morning, I am reminded that “Though I may be feeling low, I don’t need to tear someone down to build myself up…The way to build our self-esteem is not to tear others down but to build them up through love and positive concern. To help us with this, we can ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem or to the solution. Today, we can choose to build instead of destroy”.
Today, I choose to build. What/how about you? What/how about tomorrow?
“When you make choices, please remember: what is good for you but not good for others won’t be good for you either, eventually; what’s good for you and others but not good for the Earth won’t be good for you or others either, eventually; what’s good for you, others, and the Earth will be good for all.”
People make bad choices all the time. That is why we have war, violence, pollution and…
Remember, make choices that are good for all. Otherwise, the choice you make eventually won’t be good for you either.
Debasish Mridha once said ” Let the power of your love change the world, but never let the problems of this world change the beauty of your love”. This is a good reminder that the power of our love is greater than the problem of this world. The problem of this world, hatred, violence, anti-intellectual, exclusiveness, bias, fear…need to be solved and healed by our love. My friends, together, we have the power to change the world. The question is if you believe and you are willing to exercise this power, LOVE.
Do you know the difference between “the power of love” and “the love of power”? Do you know the consequence of these two? William Ewart Gladstone once said, “When the power of love will replace the love of power, then will our world know the blessings of peace”. Looking at the world today (March 2022), you may know why some parts of the world is not at peace now and how we can have peace. My friends, choose “LOVE”, “PEACE” will come.
I have been discerning and preparing new church initiatives, I got Aubrey Malphurs’ book, “The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting: A Guide for Starting Any Kind of Church”. In this book, Aubrey Malphurs writes: “I define church planting as an exhausting but exciting venture of faith, the planned process of starting and growing local churches based on Jesus’s promise to build his church and in obedience to his Great Commission”.
Why do we need to plant a new church? We are going to plant and grow a church in obedience to his Great Commission. Since this is an exhausting venture, I need fellow pilgrims. Your prayers and partnership (in many different ways) are invited and appreciated. For the sake of His Kingdom Ministry, let’s follow His way together.
In his book “a life of being have doing enough”, Wayne Muller wrote:
“Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true things: You. Your Presence. Showing up. Being in the company of another, undistracted, unhurried, with an open heart, gentle hands, and a patient soul. Willing and able to listen, do something or do nothing, willing to be surprised by whatever emerges in the soil of sharing your present, loving company with another human being”.
How often have you offered this gift to others? How often have you received this gift from others? Do you value this the most precious valuable gift?
I like the definition Richard Reising offers in his book “ChurchMarketing 101”,
“Church Marketing … is ‘the sum’ of all your church does to connect Christ with your membership and the outside world. It is ‘the sum’ of things that done (including all that defines your product, place, etc.) to engage someone to respond positively to the very thing your are promoting…it is your challenge to reach people where they are to create the atmosphere of love and joy that people hunger for. Your challenge is to relate to people wherever they might be in life and to relevantly connect them to Christ and His kingdom”.
As a rector, his definition is leading me to reflect on what I have been doing and leading and what I need to make response to this new (at least for me) definition of church marketing. May God guide our ministry.
Stéphan Carnier’s book “How to Think Like a Cat” is not about cat but us. I appreciate his reflection on being assertive, “Many of us find it hard to assert ourselves in front of other, either out of shyness or lack of confidence…if other people take up more space than you, it’s because you let them do so…Cats take the space that is their due, without crushing their neighbour, but they do not tolerate any encroachment on the space. They assert themselves quietly. They don’t play the tyrant, but neither do they accept a walk-on part”.
I have learned the need to be assertive the hard way in the past years of working as a priest/pastor. Trying the please everyone, keeping my reputation to be a nice guy and avoiding (& being afraid of) conflicts are the main reasons causing me feeling hard to be assertive.
Asserting ourselves actually is being authentic, being honest to ourselves (and others) and the way to take care of ourselves. Then we learn how to respect others’ space and boundary. In the end, we all grow (together).
In his book, “The Tao of Daily Life”, Derek Lin points out that “in our conflict-oriented culture, we have a tendency to counter force with force. If someone yells at us, we yell back louder. When we feel disrespected, our first impulse is give that disrespect right back…the conventional approach is all about confrontation and clashing. It is the ‘hard’ path to traverse through life because it focuses on the external manifestations of power. Its method is to pump up the self by diminishing others”. Have you seen and experienced what Lin describes in your life & world? Yes, I have…
Lin offers us the Tao approach that “isn’t about confrontation and clashing. Instead, it is all about redirecting and channeling. It is the ‘soft’ path because it focuses on internal strength. Its goal is to improve oneself so that everyone can win…when you make a gut-level decision to commit yourself to this teaching, to be like water and allow the soft to overcome the hard … that is when your world, your life, and your fate will undergo a startling transformation. When you improve your character and elevate your spiritual understanding by utilizing the Tao approach .. that is when your destiny will never the same again!”
As I am getting older, my internal strength and confidence are getting stronger, I have more power to love, let go and forgive. That is the way of Tao.
In the book, “Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high”, the authors has offered us guidelines on the followings: 1) we need to focus on what we really want; 2) learn how to notice safety is at risk; 3) learn how to make it safe to talk about almost anything; 4) learn how to stay in dialogue when we are angry, scared or hurt; 5) we need to speak persuasively; 6) how to listen when others blow up and clam up and 9) we get to turn crucial conversation into action and result.
To have effective crucial conversations, with our goal in our mind, we need to take heart, take guts and take actions.
Many people including Christians ourselves expect that we Christians should be nice persons. People also expect clergies must be nice persons. I believe that Christians including clergies have been gifted with the Holy Spirit, enabling them to bear fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It does not means we are not going to have any tough conversations.
The authors of this book rightly points out that “What makes each of these conversations crucial – and not simply challenging, frustrating, frightening, or annoying – is that the results could have a huge impact on the quality of your life… Despite the importance of crucial conversations, we often back away from them because we fear we’ll make matters worst. We’ve become masters at avoiding tough conversations”.
Are you a master at avoiding tough conversations?
The authors of this books also points out that “the key skills of effective leaders, teammates, parents, and loved ones is the capacity to skillfully address emotionally and politically risky issues”,
I have learned the hard way (actually with tears and sleepless nights) that we need to have crucial conversations whenever it is necessary. This book is one of the resources for our learning to have crucial conversations.
Jim Fisher is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. In this book, Jim Fisher teaches leaders to simultaneously, consistently, and coherently manage, direct and engage their followers. He provides a model of integrative leadership and explain each components and their relationship clearly: Managing (plan, organize, control), Directing(vision, alignment and motivation) and Engaging (values, clarity and involvement). I suggest to have the photocopied Figures 3.1,3.6,8.1 and 9.1 on hand while you are reading the book. These tables/matrix/diagram will help you to understand the model Jim Fisher has offered in this book. As a rector, I believe the model and the principles Jim Fisher has offered in this book is applicable to parish leadership. I also believe this model is able to help me (and those are willing to learn from the business leaders and experts) to be a more effective priest/rector.
Cluttered processes and over-complications are the enemies of control in our life. In this book, Joe Calloway offers us two powerful tools to streamline our life, reduce stress, and achieve our goals: simplification and focus. Joe wrote, “Focus means clarity. Clarity means knowing what is most important…Getting focused is the path to simplicity, and simplicity is the path to success and fulfillment”. As what Jessica Jackley said, “You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate delay or skip the rest”. But at first we need to determine really does matter most for us. Do you know and are you doing the most important things?
Although it published by the Center for Creative Leadership is written for leaders is for everyone. We all need to learn to be an effective listening. Although this book is very thin (less than 30 pages), it effectively describes the six components of active listening: paying attention, suspending judgement, reflecting, clarifying, summarizing and sharing. If you need a concise book on active listening, I strongly recommend you this book by Michael H. Hoppe.