Saturday, December 28, 2013


This post also appears on Canadian Youth Worker here.

If you study the life of Jesus you will not only discover a God-man full of integrity and character. You may also discover that He likes to do things differently...a lot.

When I first started out in ministry as a volunteer and then young ministry leader, I was convinced that the way I was doing things was the best possible way to minister to teens and families. Call it arrogance, call it being naive, or simply call it being blind. Many years later as a seasoned ministry leader I'm learning to appreciate the richness that diversity has to offer.

Diversity is an interesting word. To some it means embracing a laissez-faire attitude towards life and leadership, while to others it means uncovering and celebrating the different personalities, character and dreams that people possess. For me, diversity is a value; one that liberates a leader from a narrow frame of modus operandi.

Back to Jesus.

If you study the miracles that Jesus performed during His time on earth, you will discover that each one is uniquely different and yet completely amazing. He spits into mud and rubs it onto the eyes of a blind man restoring his sight, He changes water into wine through a simple exercise of refilling empty wine barrels, He speaks to a dead man inviting him to step back into life, and he prays over a small lunch in order to feed a gathered crowd of over 5000 people. And these are just a few of the miracles Jesus performed!

If you take a deeper look into the people that Jesus interacted with, you will again discover this theme and value of diversity. Jesus took the time to notice and to befriend anyone who was willing to be known by Him.

If Jesus embraced and lived this value of diversity, shouldn't our families, churches and ministry communities do the same? Is there room for diversity in your current ministry context, or are you asking everyone to be like everybody else?

Here are a few questions that I'm asking in my life and in my ministry to help me refine the value of diversity:

1. Do I create space where people with different stories, personalities, abilities and learning styles can connect?
2. Do I take the time to celebrate someones uniqueness as well as to look for something that we might have in common?
3. Do I encourage other ministry leaders who do ministry different than I do to keep leading into their uniqueness, or do I suggest that they should copy what I do?
4. Do I possess a balance between creativity and imitation in my pursuit of embracing diversity as a value?

So what about have you seen the value of diversity impact the lives of people? Are there additional questions you'd add to this list to help refine the pursuit of diversity as a value?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


The holiday seasons provides us with many opportunities to generate different conversations. Sometimes these conversations are brand new, and others are sometimes rekindled over food, fun or some other holiday activity.

Regardless of how conversations begin, it's clear that the words and non-vocal exchanges that occur in every conversation matter. Here are some ideas on creating conversations that matter:

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Pep Talk

Heading into the holiday season we are sometimes in need of a reminder of what might really be important. This is a message I got to share alongside a teenager at the church I currently pastor in. I hope it inspires you to find hope and peace this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Autonomy or Collaboration

Sometimes I wonder if living in our consumer oriented culture stunts the development of our understanding and implementation of leadership.

The typical North American branding for leaders has been those created through a personal ascension towards responsibility, goals and achievements. The name of the game has been to increase one's character, competency and capability so you can become the leader you were intended to be.

As a leader, what I've learned most is that in order to grow I need others around me to challenge me, to encourage me and to help refine me. There is a great temptation to try and carve out our own personal slice of leadership glory. But when we choose autonomy over collaboration, we choose position over progress.

Here are three reasons why it pays to pursue collaboration.

1. God is collaborative. Although the existence and relevance of God may be up for debate in some circles, examining every major world religion you will find that God is always projected to work in tandem with either humans, other Gods or other supernatural forces. As a Christian, I believe and hold to the biblical view of the existence of God. In the Bible, God is described as a communal being that exists in perfect relationship within Himself (referred to as God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit), and extends relational connection to His creation.

Because God, who is in the innovator of life, has chosen to exist in a collaborative communal expression within Himself, what would make me believe that isolation and autonomy are the best options for leadership development?

2. Personal gain is an empty pursuit. When is enough enough? The answer is never. No matter what I personally achieve as a leadership, it will always remain shallow if I don't have anyone to share it with. Humans were created for relationship. We invest a great deal of time defining who we are based on the determination of how we are connected to others (parent, child, relative, friend, co-worker, etc.). What this tells us is that at the very core of human culture is the fabric of relationship. True leadership is understanding that growth is about a communal practice not personal gain.

3. Many hands make light work. Have you ever tried to push a car out of the snow by yourself? Unless you are omnipresent (meaning you can be in multiple places at the same time) it is impossible. You need one person (or multiple people) pushing the car and one person steering. Leadership was never intended to be a solo endeavour. Great leaders find ways to work alongside of others by putting their differences of opinion, philosophy or methodology aside.

Are there any other benefits to working collaboratively that you would add to this list?