He taught us to love one another

I’ve heard/sung “O Holy Night” four times in the last week. Some Christmas songs get tiresome during the holidays, but not this one. This song of hope, and faith, and awe towards the One who came to earth has always been one of my favorites. Since Sunday night, when I sang the hymn for the fourth time in a space of five days, the first line of the third stanza has been reverberating in my soul:

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.

I want to live and lead like Jesus. Jesus followed the law of love, and asked his followers (who would become leaders) to do the same. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus was a peacemaker; He proclaimed blessing upon all who would be the same. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

May this week give you many opportunities to love those around you, and to make peace in Christ’s name.

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim.

for the fascinating history of “O Holy Night”, look here.

Fake it ’til you make it?

Today, my sons are were flying home for Christmas.  Their flight was just cancelled, and we will wait at least another 24 hours to see them.  One airport story begets another . . . a brief encounter with a magazine headline at a gift shop in the Frankfurt airport a couple of years ago.  It was the Harvard Business Review, with these words enticing readers to open their magazine: “The Problem of Authenticity: When It’s Okay to Fake it Until You Make It.”

I had just finished my dissertation, which included a long section on authentic leadership. On seeing the arresting headline, several thoughts simultaneously passed through my mind.  I wrote them down as soon as I sat down at the gate, but they’ve stayed on my computer ever since.  So today, in honor of my sons who are spending an extra day in Chicago, here’s my gut reaction to “The Problem of Authenticity: When It’s Okay to Fake it Until You Make It.”

1. It’s NEVER okay to fake it.

2. It’s NOT that important to “make it.”

3. Or, maybe we would should recognize that every day is an opportunity to “make it” with the important things in life.

4. There are many problems with authenticity.  For example, the many temptations to give it up.

5. It IS important to step out of one’s comfort zone (that’s one of the things advocated by the article).

But we must!

David had felt “but we must!” have conflict resolution with Z___, and was not given that opportunity. God worked in wonderful ways, however, and we are reminded of how good He is.

Recently we taught class sessions on Cross-cultural Communication and Biculturalism, and I had the opportunity to remember and appreciate the bigger story.

The teammate who stayed, the young Japanese pastor, grew and kept growing. More than ten years later, he is still pastor and the church continues as a creative witness in its community.

Communication, understanding and trust were strengthened between the mother church elders/pastor and the younger pastor over the years we worked together, and David played a key role in that. All of this took place in Japanese, with its nuances of respect, honor, and varying degrees of indirectness. Ironically, the gaikokujin (literally “outside country person”) who was operating outside of his native culture and language, was used by God to aid their communication with each other.

The book hadn’t been written yet, but David was following principles described by Duane Elmer in Cross-cultural Servanthood (2006). Openness, acceptance, trust, learning, and understanding are what “must be” modeled and pursued in ministry teams, if we are to thrive and succeed. I am honored to have seen that in action, especially in a multi-cultural setting with its extra challenges.