Staff post

When I Became Passionate about Leadership

When people talk with me, it does not take long for them to realize I feel passionate about leadership. They often ask me, “When did you first realize you had leadership gifts?”

In high school I was part of an Explorer Scout group led by Coach Brown, a basketball coach who loved young people. He started this group for youth who wanted something to do on the weekend besides drink and do drugs.

I watched as Coach Brown took a bunch of adolescents and built a strong group. He raised up student leaders to lead the group. I happened to be one of them. I had never had someone see me as a leader before. 

I learned from Coach Brown that both boys and girls could lead. This group was a co-ed scouting group – one of the first – and both boys and girls served on the leadership council. That pioneering vision helped keep me going over the years. I was so excited two years ago when I was ordained as a priest, and I love to serve alongside other men and women leaders at Savior.

I also learned that a leader needs to know the gifts of other leaders and put them in positions where they can succeed. Coach Brown saw my administration and put me in charge of a dinner banquet for 250 people. When I look back know, I wonder, “What was he thinking?!” But Coach knew I could do it, and when I did, it built my confidence.

From those early experiences, I became hungry to learn how to grow in my leadership. I spent years attending the Global Leadership Summit and meeting with leadership coaches. For several years I met with a group of women executive pastors. I constantly read leadership books – right now, Becoming by Michelle Obama and Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

I believe that if we do not have healthy leaders, we will not have healthy churches and organizations. That is why I dedicate my life now to coaching leaders, through my practice (StrengthenYourLeadership.com) and as leader of Church of the Savior’s staff. I love our staff meetings, and I am blessed as I meet with them individually and watch their leadership grow. We have an amazing staff at Savior! I would not want to spend my life doing anything else.


Savior’s Associate Rector, Karen Miller, led the counseling center for Evangelical Child and Family Agency for 9 years; coached church planters with the Greenhouse Movement for 3 years; and served as executive pastor at Church of the Resurrection for 14 years. She founded and leads a leadership-coaching practice,    Strengthen Your Leadership   .

Savior’s Associate Rector, Karen Miller, led the counseling center for Evangelical Child and Family Agency for 9 years; coached church planters with the Greenhouse Movement for 3 years; and served as executive pastor at Church of the Resurrection for 14 years. She founded and leads a leadership-coaching practice, Strengthen Your Leadership.

 
 

Remembering the Light in Epiphany

Today’s post comes from Sarah Lindsay, Savior’s Director of Communications and Children’s Ministry Coordinator.

Christmas is over: the trees are down, the decorations (mostly) packed away, the excitement of new toys has worn off. And with the snow and the cold, January is reminding us that winter has settled in for an unpleasantly long visit. Even the church calendar has reset to ordinary time: a season of days ticked off the calendar between the feast of Christmas and the solemn fast of Lent.

As we readjust to routines, packing lunches, searching for lost mittens, and eating dinner after dark, the joy and light of Christmas can seem distant. But during this season of Epiphany, of ordinary days, we have a chance to continue celebrating the coming of Jesus, the light of the world. During Epiphany, we remember the ordinary ways in which Jesus revealed himself to the world: in the muddy waters of the Jordan River, at a wedding in Cana, as he preaches in his hometown.

In children’s worship, the children sing about the colors of the church year: ordinary time is green, and “green is for the growing time.” It’s hard to remember in the icy grip of January and February that growth is happening. But just as the days are slowly lengthening and the bulbs under the earth are waiting to grow again, the light whose arrival we celebrate at Christmas continues to shine. Let us take the time in this ordinary space of Epiphany to notice how Jesus is present in our world.

The Way of Jesus: A Ministry of Love, Not Mere Grit

Today’s post comes from Sandy Richter, Savior’s Pastor of Adult Formation.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13)

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Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state.

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Lately I am hearing more and more about the concept of grit. I see it on t-shirts, my kids’ teachers are touting its importance, it’s showing up in my Facebook feed and on my Goodreads recommendations. So needless to say, it caught my attention.

I suppose in this moment in history, it shouldn’t surprise me that this term is getting a lot of fanfare. When so many people’s underlying hurt and trauma are being played out in the larger political and social arenas of our nation, and when more and more victims are finding the freedom to share their experiences, we are forced to ask what this all means, and how, if so many have suffered, will they, or have they, learned to move on? Grit, it seems, is the popular answer. Somehow, with enough perseverance and passion--or grit--life’s obstacles can be overcome and dreams still realized.

And truly the human spirit is impressive in this regard. Every time I hear another victim’s story I am moved by their resilience, their strength, their courage to persevere.

But it has also left me wondering, is grit all there is? If so, where does that leave us when we don’t have the strength or courage to keep going? When we can’t summon any more grit?

Jesus presents to us a different way of being that Paul reflected on in this passage from 1 Corinthians 13. I will call this the way of love.

Because our society has romanticized love so thoroughly, it has taken on more sentimentality than substance in our modern parlance. Love is the stuff of movies and greeting cards, not anything powerful or real enough to make a difference in life.

But according to Jesus, love is actually the bedrock of reality. The reality of giving and receiving love is at the center of the universe--the Father loving the Son, the Son loving the Father, in the power and movement of the Holy Spirit--and contrary to popular belief, love is a force much stronger than any other, even stronger than grit. Love has the power to heal, to forgive, to reconcile, to mend. Knowing oneself as the beloved brings courage, hope, joy, and the freedom to love the other.

What does this have to do with us and the ministry of Church of the Savior?

Everything.

green with round motto.jpg

When our founding members sat together to discuss what values and characteristics they wanted to embody as a new church, three simple and profound things came forth: Loving God, Loving Others, and Loving Life. Sure, that has a nice ring to it, but in a much deeper way these pioneers of our church established in the very DNA of our beginnings the outworking of the reality of belovedness. What resulted is what we enjoy today--a church truly grounded in this way of love, continually seeking to live life together and work together in the kind of ministry of love that Paul described to the Corinthian church.

I don’t know about you, but our family noticed the difference right away. Each Saturday night we visited, we were warmly welcomed. People remembered our names, asked about our lives, seemed to really care. We had three small kids then, including a nearly one-year-old whose bedtime fell right near the beginning of the Eucharist. Every single week someone came up to us after the service with reassuring encouragement that his not-so-little cries only added to their worship experience.

When I started working on staff at our church, I saw this way of love even more explicitly played out. I saw it in the interactions among staff members--people truly concerned with one another’s welfare, not just the tasks that needed completing. I saw it in the way we prayed together and spent time meditating on the Word of God’s love at the beginning of every staff meeting. I saw it in the way we talked about recruitment and our volunteers. Rather than tasks taking the front seat, we spent time brainstorming ways to lighten the load for those heavy burdened; we discussed what it would look like for people to find joy in serving. We talked about people as people, not as cogs working to make a system run smoothly.

This way of being, this value of Loving God, Loving Others, Loving Life, has infused the ministry of Church of the Savior since our beginnings and is still very evident today. It’s why so many of our new members talk about how quickly they felt ‘at home’ here. The love of God seen in the faces of our members, draws people in and invites them to come back.

The thing is, this ministry of love is not always easy to prioritize, even in a church. For one, we quickly get focused on the tasks of our ministry and lose sight of the bigger picture. The tyranny of the urgent, as it’s been called, is a real thing, and constantly calls to be heeded.

And then there is this value of grit, this idea that in order to achieve our goals, we need to dig deeper, try harder, and that in doing so we will get the real work of life accomplished. In my experience, the church has its own kind of grit mentality, framed in more spiritual terms. We teach and strive to believe that if we have enough faith, enough reliance on God, enough self-sacrifice, we can push through, buckle down, and get done what God wants us to do in the world.

But I would suggest that right now it is more imperative than ever that we strive to live out the way of love, rather than any forms of grit or similar self-reliance. Both for our own sakes, and for the sake of the world. We must strive to life as the beloved because as Paul reminds us, love is what endures. Everything else will pass away, but love will remain. Knowing ourselves as God’s dearly loved children is the beginning and end of everything.

Practically, that means that in our ministry together here at Savior, we must continue to attend to the things of love. We need to be honest about the state of our souls. We need to be cognizant of the souls of those around us. We honor one another, care for one another, forgive one another, and ask for forgiveness ourselves.

As we continue in this way of love, we make the habit of living counter-culturally and offer to the world another way. A way that allows for the grit to run dry, a way that offers hope in the God of the universe, in whose unconditional love true healing, hope, peace, and restoration can be found.

Brothers and sisters, let us continue in this way of love together, to the praise and glory of our most gracious God.