Ceasing

For the past few years, I have regularly considered giving up blogging. Every three or four months or so, I would wake up, think about all the things going on in my life, and I would be 100% ready to stop blogging. And every time, that very same day, I would get an email, or a note, or a text thanking me for having written something that encouraged or motivated them.

And I would get back to my laptop and hack away at it.

Sometimes those encouragements would be from a close friend, and sometimes from someone I knew casually, and sometimes from a completely stranger. It never ceased to amaze me how God would use my ramblings to help someone else, and to give a voice to the voiceless and an image to the unseen.

But now I am sure that I need a break from blogging. Not just a week or a month, but for the rest of the year (or longer).

Read more about why I’ve made this decision…

Leading a Non-Profit

book_ managing_non_profitI’ve been reading Managing the Nonprofit Organization (Peter Drucker). It is definitely challenging me in how I am leading Elevate Youth.

Here are some quotes that I’ve mulled over already (I’m sure I’ll come across more):

“Keep your eye on your task, not on yourself. The task matters, and you are a servant.”

“The leader starts out with the realization that he and the organization owe; the owe the customers, the clients, the constituency. . . . And what they really owe is really to enable people to realize their potential, to realize their purpose in serving the organization.”

“Leadership is accountable for results. And leadership always asks, Are we really faithful stewards of the talents entrusted to us? The talents, the gifts of the people — the talents, the gifts of money. Leadership is doing. It isn’t just thinking great thoughts; it isn’t just charisma; it isn’t play-acting. It is doing. . . .

And the first imperative of doing is to revise the mission, to refocus it, and to build and organize, and then abandon. It is asking ourselves whether, knowing what we now know, we would go into this again. Would we stress it? Would we pour more resources in, or would we taper off? That is the first action command for any mission.”

For all the kids and youth and parents, and volunteers and supporters and readers, I recognize that I owe you.

I owe you my best efforts — whether for things I enjoy doing (being with kids, helping others get plugged in), or for things I don’t (fund-raising, marketing). We have a mission, and we will work together to see our hope become a reality.

Top Posts of 2014

Micah 6_8Happy New Year!

Not sure how much you’ll be reading blogs today, or how much you’ll be watching football. Even if you are doing the latter, I’m sure they will be some terrible games. Why don’t you use some of your relaxing time to skim over some articles?

As I’m easing back into blogging from a little break, I figured this would be a good time to recap the top posts from 2014 (mind you — this blog was only launched at the end of the summer).

Did you miss any of these articles? Or do you want a refresher?

#6.  Why Don’t We Strive for Racial ReconciliationThe issue of diversity and the church has been on my mind a lot over the past few months. And apparently I am not alone.

#5.  Don’t Fund the Fight Against CancerA fun little article I wrote. Well, fun if you ignore the parts about cancer and poverty.

#4.  Teaching, and LearningExplaining the part-time jobs I had this fall. I was thankful for these opportunities!

#3.  Ministry Update: Your FAQs and SAQs. A late summer (or early fall?) update on what we were going to do in Greenville. Be sure to also read the follow-up post from 6 weeks later.

#2.  School InequalityI’m no Robin Hood, with the goal of robbing the rich to give to the poor. But the vast difference between the haves and have-nots is alarming. And as a follow up, I got to see the inside of this building (described in this post) during my son’s robotics competition. Yes, the school facilities are amazing, as you would expect from the price tag. But the school’s team still did not perform exceptionally. Money can’t buy everything, huh?

#1.  Eric Garner, Michael Brown, You, and MeI don’t usually write on hot topics, but I did this time, writing this the evening after a controversial decision was made. I was tired and emotional when I wrote it, which may have been a good thing, based on the support, sharing, and even some pushback it received. Of all the pageviews I’ve had on this blog, over 40% have been on this single post.

(Side note: To the person who found my blog while searching for “what does carcinogenic mean” — sorry that you were led down the wrong path. But the answer, in case you haven’t found it yet, is “cancer causing.”)

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to learning more with you in 2015!

A Need for Rest

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  (Psalm 46:10)

Being a science-nerd (completely) and environmentally friendly (somewhat), I love rechargeable batteries. Sure they are more expensive, but they pay for themselves in the long run.

Have you ever had a battery leak in a device, and have to clean up the white corrosion product? One thing I’ve learned from batteries (rechargeable or not) is that if you don’t use the device in a while, you should remove the battery.

But whereas removing the battery can save it and the device, it doesn’t make the battery stronger. Doing so won’t drain them further, but it also doesn’t recharge them.

The same with me. While I need time to “unplug” regularly, doing so doesn’t necessarily recharge me. I need to actively and intentionally be recharged.

I struggle to rest. Even last year, I couldn’t finish my monthly goal of being still for 10 minutes a day. But over the next week, I will at least take a break from blogging. You won’t see me post anything for a week, and even then, I’ll ease back into it with some “best of” posts.

I will spend more time investing in things that do recharge me, namely, my relationships with Jesus, with my family, and with friends. After all, I am not wanting to be recharged for my own life’s sake, but knowing that my life belongs to my Lord and Savior.

David Mathis writes in Take a Break from the Chaos:

“We are humans, not machines. We were made for rhythms of silence and noise, community and solitude. It is unhealthy to always have people around, as well as to rarely want them. God made us for cycles and seasons, for routines and cadences.”

I wish you a Merry Christmas, and that you would rest well, too.

Related Links:

**image courtesy of Schick via morguefile

Year-End Giving: Mill Community Ministries

cash morguefile cohdra

It’s that time of the year when you will be inundated with numerous requests to donate money before 2014 is over. (Can we say “tax deduction”?). And that’s great, since there are many worthwhile charities that need our support.

Besides giving to Grace Church and supporting a few overseas missionaries (Osborns, Cawleys, Dosters), we also donate to a few other charities (both faith-based and social service) regularly. Over the last 10 years, we’ve consolidated more and more so we are not spreading out our resources too much.

Do you know who else we give to? Mill Community Ministries, the organization I work for. And if you are wondering where you can make a meaningful financial contribution, I encourage you to consider donating to Mill Community Ministries, too.

Learn about the example I witnessed that changed my life…

Why “Justice, Kindness, Humility”?

Micah 6_8“He has told you, O man, what is good;

And what does the LORD require of you

But to do justice,

to love kindness,

And to walk humbly with your God?”

Of all the verses I could have picked to focus on for this blog, why did I pick Micah 6:8? For all that I want to learn and teach about poverty and education and Jesus and politics, why I am I naming this blog “Justice • Kindness • Humility”?

Because plenty of people are already using James 1:27 and Matthew 25:34-40.

In truth, I could have picked any verse (even if this is a little out of context) and any title. But something has struck me about this verse, as it speaks to me about what it means to live out the gospel and to serve others. And what stands out to makes me a little uncomfortable.

Click here to read more…

A Small Manifesto

GREEN GALILEE _ farmland

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?”  
Micah 6:8

Tomorrow’s generation is divided. This division has less to do with race or money or politics. It has to do with opportunity.

The truth is that not everyone has the same access to resources, education, health care, and love. This is an injustice. And this violates the core of who we are as humans.

But there is hope. I know there is, for 2 reasons:

First, we have a sovereign God who is deeply concerned with each of us. He is intimately active in this world, as He desires for us to know Him and trust in Him.

Second, because you can think, feel, and do, you have what others need. You can always learn from others, and you can always teach others.

You have something to share. Maybe it’s your time. Maybe it’s your money. Maybe it’s your expertise. Maybe it’s your life experience. Maybe it’s all of the above.

impostor_syndrome bufferI’ll be honest, for as much as I learned in my time in Allendale, I feel like I should know about poverty and education and the gospel. I feel like people expect me to know a lot, and I probably do know a good bit. At least, I know a lot more than I did 4 years ago.

But I also feel like an imposter. I still say “I don’t know” a whole bunch, and that’s ok.

It’s ok that we don’t know. But in the face of uncertainty, we have to embrace ambiguity and move forward.

The world is full of chaos and injustice and despair. But in the greatest crises are the greatest opportunities to love and to communicate truth (see Matthew 24:12-14).

I invite you to help me learn. I invite you to join this community.

I invite you to Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Live Humbly with God. Make a difference in this world, as you bring love and justice to those who need it most.

Related Links:

We Created This Monster

 **first image courtesy of israeltourism via flickr

**second image courtesy of buffer