I Am a Failed & Abusive Leader


O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
~ Jeremiah 23.1-4
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I Am Scared I’ll Never Serve in Ministry Again, and that I Don’t Deserve To


O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
O Lord God of hosts;
do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me,
O God of Israel.
It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.

~ Psalm 69.5-8

Lent & Male Feminism: Reflections & Repentance


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Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of the Lent season of the Christian Church Calendar. It is the time of year in which we turn up the volume on those darker whispers in our hearts to hear what they say. We turn our ears to the cries of the world bear the wounds of a weeping earth in our hearts and hands. And oh, the wounds are deep.

We come to this Lent with the weight of so much on our collective shoulders: so much brokenness, so much injustice, so much pain, heartache, death, and violence in the world. I honestly thought that 2015 would bring relief from 2014. So far, it has not.

But in the midst of the chaos that reigns both within and without, I am determined to turn my thoughts and this blog towards one area in which the Church as a whole needs to repent; an area in which I feel we can make some real progress in this day and age: Women in the Church.

I do have an on-going series on this topic that I’ve been adding to for the past couple of years, but I think it’s important and helpful to turn towards it particularly now. Lent has always had a deep connection to this topic for me.
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My Day with Cornel West (or rather, his autobiography)


Cornel-WestIf you know who Cornel West is, I’m pretty confident in saying that what you think you know about him is probably wrong, or at best, dramatically incomplete. If you don’t know who he is, then you should.

For my current class on Leadership, I had to pick an autobiography of a leader whose perspective on faith and life is probably dramatically different than my own. The book I chose was Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. 

My own anxiety and compulsivity make it difficult for me to read for long stretches of time. I can usually only read one thing for ten or fifteen minutes before having to bounce my mind to something else or change up what I’m reading. But, due to my own procrastination and inefficiency with time, I came to the day before my paper was due not having opened up the nearly-300-page tome.

And so I did what needed to be done. I left my electronics at home and brought nothing but the book to a nearby Starbucks. I got a cup of coffee, turned on a Jazz radio station on my phone, settled into a couch, and read the entire thing.

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Rhythms of Faith & Freedom


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I’m currently reading through Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Occasionally, I’ll post reflections on my reading.

One big strength of this particular book on cultivating one’s spiritual existence is that it’s focus is entirely on the spiritual life as a response to what God has been doing. Most books focus more on the stuff you’re “supposed” to do. Some slightly betters ones spend their time unpacking and expressing the “beauties of the Gospel” (as they pretty narrowly, individualistically, and Evangelically define it) and then trust that these intellectual ideas and truths woo us and turn our “affections” to God. These are the same people that often see “preaching the Gospel to yourself” as the panacea for everything, be it doubt, fear, confusion, theological questions, or mental health issues.

Barton, however, comes at it from a different angle. She uses the story of Moses as a picture and type for the dance that exists between God and his people. And at each stage of Moses’ life and deepening of his calling and relating to God, she shows how God has actually been at work to, for, and with Moses long before this moment ever came.

So it’s not, “God died for you, so you can live for him!”, or, “See how beautiful God is and all the things he’s done for you! Now doesn’t that make you want to engage with him? (And if it doesn’t, there’s something fundamentally wrong with you.)”
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The Refuge of the Embattled Soul


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I’m currently reading through Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Occasionally, I’ll post reflections on my reading.

“Reach the campus, reach the world.”

That’s how they got me. With those words, I began an amazing three years in the campus ministry I was a part of throughout college. I was coming out of a fundamentalist evangelical fog, and was desperate for deep, impactful community. I found it in those incredible people.

They had pointed out that our college had students from almost every “closed nation” in the world (countries where missionaries aren’t allowed to go). The campus was a place of such diversity and nationalities; the thought was that this was the most strategic place to have the most global Christian impact. Playing a part in this excited me and stirred me to serve in this mission.

Compared to the few-hundred strong InterVarsity, our little band of 12 or so students were the definite underdogs of campus ministry. We were just starting out and decided to go legitimate and become an official student organization. This would give us access to room and equipment rentals, money, and advertising resources. But we needed “officers” and a board of leaders to do this.

I thus became the President of our campus ministry.
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A method for humility, according to St. Paul | 1 Corinthians 3:18-19


Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. For it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”
1 Corinthians 3.18-19

What a method for humility. Whenever we feel wise or smart, the best thing we can do is put ourselves in a situation where this is not valued. We must be “simplified” and lose the wisdom, else lose Christ in the process. Here I think of Lesslie Newbigin, who left his lucrative writing and tenured prestige and teaching to work with those who would never know or appreciate his brilliance. This can be a discipline that we do.

For example: Perhaps I should consider ways to stop blogging or cutting it out of my routine in those moments or seasons that I feel it is building me up too much.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Corinthian Fragments on Church Leadership & Growth | 1 Corinthians 3 & 4


What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3.5-7

There is no such thing as “church growth” methods or strategies. Just a “church growing God”. This should correct our hubris and encourage us: when a church “fails”, it need not be because of a failure of method, leadership, vision, strategy, preaching, planning, or obedience. A lot of times, it’s just that God did not give the growth, and we should move on.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3.11

Would that we embraced this as our ultimate Church “growth” philosophy!

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God..
1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Is it just me or is this an incredibly Protestant view of Church leadership?

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.
1 Corinthians 4:1

Oh what a beautiful picture of what Church leadership is! “Stewards of the mysteries of God”. I love that.

I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
1 Corinthians 4:14

What a model for leader-congregant relationships.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

This weekend, I’m being ordained as a Deacon. And I can’t wait.


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I noticed that I could see the slowly turning fan blades above us in the reflection of his freshly shaven head. His blue eyes and silver goatee turned up to me quickly, recovering from almost choking on his salad.

“What did you say?”

I had just told him that I felt I had a sense of where God wanted my spiritual life to go next. I was a 20 year-old college student, the president of my campus ministry, and I hung out with my pastors all the time. More importantly, though, was the fact that I was crushing really hard on this girl that wouldn’t date me. Only later would I realize that this was a bigger factor in what I said than anything God had said.

“I want to become an elder at our church.”

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yeah, i want to be kind of a big deal


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I fight with pride a lot.As I was telling a friend today: if you take a guy that is fairly smart, can put disparate concepts together, can talk well, and you make him a Christian, you get something very dangerous.He starts believing the press others say about him and begins to think he is much more mature than he actually is.This is me.My entire life people have set me apart for “something big for God.”Being able to understand and communicate even the deepest truths of God and His Word doesn’t equal maturity one bit.Seminary has certainly been showing me just how independent I try to be from God.

But nevertheless, something does resonate within me when I think about my place on the national/world stage.I feel like I’m being tailored by God for big, visible things out there in the world.I don’t know for sure what this means, and I’m fine with it not coming to pass, but I feel like I’m being prepared for a weight I could not bear apart from prior work by God.

But that’s not the point of this post.Now, like I said, I was grabbing coffee with that friend of mine – a friend who is quite visible on the national and international stage.But he’s been struggling with something recently that really struck me.He pointed out that no person ever used by God for really big things ever did it apart from great levels and displays of suffering.His problem was that he shirks from suffering while seeking comfort – the very thing that is antithetical to what he’s called to.I have a similar problem.

I’m only 22 and I feel like I haven’t suffered much.Some really dark family stuff, spiritual dark months of the soul, and severe emotional pains (loneliness and heartache, mainly), but really no classic forms of real suffering.Yet, in spite of this, God has given me a very developed theology of suffering and God’s Sovereignty within it.This terrifies me.I can not get away from this haunting sense deep in the recesses of my mind that severe trials lie ahead of me.So severe that God needs to prepare me now to survive the pains to come.

In one sense this reaffirms my desire to be well-known, influential, and in front of many people.On the other it sobers me, realizing (perhaps for the first time) what it means to “count the cost.”So perhaps all those that have been praising and building me up for big things in the future have actually been painting a target on my soul for the refining pains and trials of God.

So for those of you out there seeking renown, fame, and exposure.Know that if you really are doing it to God’s Glory, then no servant is greater than his Master, and you should expect nothing less than fulfilling in the body the sufferings of Christ, that His life might be seen through your death for your good and God’s Glory.