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Carey Nieuwhof is a Canadian pastor that is putting out some GREAT leadership stuff.  You should really check out his blog (link to follow).  Here are five mistakes that Carey said he made in the area of leadership.  He tells you these mistakes so you’re not wasting your time learning the hard way: Carey writes: Here are five leadership mistakes I’ve made: 1. Pointing out what’s wrong – not what’s right. Many leaders share a trait: they immediately notice what’s right and wrong, and gravitate toward fixing what’s wrong. I’m king of this. And ironically, it motivates me to get better. But it can end up being de-motivating to the people around you. I’ve had to learn to celebrate the wins (there are a ton of them when you look), point out what’s right and high five the team. Only then should you move to what’s wrong. Otherwise you knock the wind out of people. Honestly, this is still a daily discipline with me. 2. Thinking a leader needs to have all the answers. As a young leader, I was afraid people would notice that I was young and didn’t know as much as I should. I took me a few years to become comfortable with saying “I don’t know”. Wish I’d learned that right off the bat. Ironically, people already know that you don’t know. And when you say you don’t know, it actually creates empathy and a better sense of team.  Now more than ever, I fully realize how much I have left to learn. 3. Trying to be too original. This characterized my first 7 or 8 years of leadership. I didn’t know you could take what others have done and simply implement it (I’m not talking about plagiarizing sermons or stealing proprietary ideas here – but about ministry models and strategies that you’re free to use). I’d go to a conference and feel I’d need to change something enough to put ‘my spin’ or ‘our spin’ on it. Well, sometimes your spin makes it worse. If you really have an original idea that’s going to change things – use it. But there are smarter people who are further along than you who you can borrow from. And sometimes you just need to give yourself permission to borrow. 4.  Using people to accomplish tasks. I’m a task guy. Early on, sometimes I saw people as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. It’s a goal of mine to do what great managers do – not use people to get tasks done, but to get ‘people done’ through tasks. 5. Depending too much on my own strength. Being an A-type personality has strengths and weaknesses. Looking back, I wish I had developed a better sense of team earlier and I wished I had sought out mentors earlier. I’m still also trying to figure out the balance between Jesus’ teaching that human effort accomplishes nothing and that we need to serve and lead with all diligence. I’ll get back to you on that one. Maybe in heaven. Read more of Carey’s thoughts here…

Stephen Prothero is a religion scholar at Boston University, and has written a book entitled “The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation,” . Stephen has taken some flack for some of his recent writings at the blog about Jesus. I’m not saying that I agree totally with Stephen’s conclusions… but I will say that I think many times our Christianity here in the states is more ‘western’ than ‘biblical’ at times.  It’s a natural response to our culture and upbringing. Personally… I like pieces like this that make me think. Take a read, and let me know what YOU think about Stephen’s writing: In my book “American Jesus,” I demonstrated how American views of Jesus, rather than adhering strictly to the unchanging biblical witness, have shifted with the cultural and political winds. Over the course of U.S. history Jesus has been a socialist and a capitalist, a pacifist and a warrior. In other words, he has been used, by both the left and the right. Or, as I put it, “The American Jesus is more a pawn than a king, pushed around in a complex game of cultural (and countercultural) chess, sacrificed here for this cause and there for another.” This problem of mistaking your God for the God  the problem, that is, of idolatry was captured beautifully by Albert Schweitzer, who suggested that scholars on a quest for the “historical Jesus” were looking down into a deep well and seeing not the real Jesus but reflections of themselves. This is what is happening, in my view, to my angry evangelical readers. In this case, however, they are looking down the well and seeing some mashup of Ronald Reagan and Romney. Instead of the biblical Christ, they are seeing the Republican Jesus. There are many ways to support my argument that the preoccupations of the Christian Right today are not the preoccupations of the Bible. One is to point out that abortion is never even mentioned in the Bible. (Yes, Jeremiah 1:5 reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” but when did that formation happen? At conception? At quickening? At birth?) Another is to point out that American evangelicals didn’t care about the abortion question until the GOP taught them to care. As Jonathan Dudley observes in a recent Belief Blog post, U.S. Catholic leaders began to take on abortion right after Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973, but American evangelical leaders continued to teach that life begins at birth until the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the Bible clearly teaches us that our politics should center on the abortion question, why did it take nearly 2,000 years for Bible believers to figure this out? Here is my basic proposition: Bible-believing Christians who want to base their politics on the Bible ought to get the Bible straight, which is to say (a) correct and (b) directly from the page, rather than filtered through the spin of the GOP. To this end, I would like to challenge them to look at an amazing website, part of“The Official King James Bible Online,” which lists each and every word in that translation of the Bible in order of popularity. Not surprisingly, “and” and “the” are the top two.  But how do more meaningful words rank? Abortion, of course, is not on the list. Neither is homosexuality, though there are, I will admit, perhaps a couple dozen references to what we now call male homosexuality (and either one or zero to lesbianism, depending on how you read Romans 1:26). So these issues are not central. But which issues are? Well, faith, grace and salvation, for starters. (They appear 231, 159 and 158 times, respectively.) But if you turn to the political questions that beset us today, what does this quantitative approach to the Bible yield? First and foremost, a preoccupation with “war” (470 times) and “peace” (280). Second, a preoccupation with economics, and especially with the rich (109) and the poor (233). The Bible also seems far more concerned with “prison” and “prisoners” (109) than we are in U.S. politics today. And, I might add, with famine (101). Finally, the Bible mentions Israel a lot (2,509 times)  even more than heaven (644). So that seems to be something that both candidates got right in the third debate. To conclude, I have no problem with evangelical Christians voting for Romney. My complaint arises when they say they are doing so because the Bible commands them to vote for the candidate who is opposed to abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage. You can read more here. Thoughts? Todd

Current Events
Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to a Jewish group for last Sunday’s coronation of him as a King. In Long’s words: The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community, or any group. Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord… While I believe that Rabbi Ralph Messer has good intentions during his message at New Birth, I understand that the ceremony he performed on Sunday, January 29th, caused harm to the Jewish community, for which I am deeply sorry. The ‘ceremony’ had many a person scratching their head. To Long’s credit, he did look a little bewildered and slightly annoyed during the ceremony that made viral status on YouTube. So, for now, I guess we can go back to calling him Bishop. Carry on. SOURCE