Psalm 49 – Hope in the Midst of Unjust Darkness

By Drew Gilliland
Program & Research Associate, G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice

This summer, my church has been reading through the Psalms together with the theme of “Flourish,” coming from Psalm 1:1-3. Delighting in the Law of the Lord, the psalmist writes, makes a person firmly rooted by streams of water, yielding fruit, and not withering. Is this not what we desire as people of God, and as people who want to see justice done in this broken world? 

Today, I read Psalm 49, and it is a perfect psalm for all of us. It starts like this:

Hear this, all peoples! Give are, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together!…Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
— Psalm 49:1, 5-6

It’s so easy for me to be discouraged by the seemingly endless injustice in the world. People like Jeffery Epstein, in the news so much recently, used his wealth to schmooze other “important” people, even after being exposed as a trafficker. Economic inequality worsens, and many children & college students across the US, not to mention around the world, have to scrape by with little nutritious food to eat each month, while CEOs continue to see their paychecks balloon. In some states, parents are even giving up custody of their children so that they can get need-based college aid, while others use corrupt means to get their children into elite schools. Children are separated from their families and killed at schools and festivals, and rape victims in India & dissidents in Russia are silenced by suspicious “accidents.” This doesn’t even begin to cover the myriad famines, droughts, floods, storms, earthquakes, economic struggles, and personal struggles faces by billions.

And yet the psalmist asks, boldly, in the face of all this injustice, “Why should I fear in times of trouble?”

Why indeed? It looks as if we have much to fear from injustice. But it’s all hevel – a mist that vanishes. All the riches that seem to smooth over the evil that’s done will fade and perish, and all who commit injustice will die. “Humanity in its pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.”

But for those who trust in God, he will ransom our souls and receive us. Those who are persecuted, rejected, marginalized, who trust God – we will be rejected no more. We have a place with the one who holds all riches, all blessings, all good gifts, all justice, and all love in his life-giving, nail-pierced hands. We are rescued from Sheol and from injustice because he has defeated them wholly. What can other humans do to us? 

We can rest, despite the injustice we see and experience, that Christ holds us, see our suffering, and will remember it. We can find security in the hope of the coming kingdom and the joy that will not only remove our pain, but will far exceed it, removing even its very memory. Let us not look at the seeming successes of the unjust and be overly frustrated or envious, but trust in the fact that God sees & knows, and holds in store for us, and for the oppressed, justice.

The hungry will be fed, the thirsty will have water, the poor will be rich, the unjustly imprisoned will be free, the lame will walk, the blind will see, the sick with be healed, the sinner will be made whole, and the dead will rise. “And behold, I am making all things new.” Let us remind ourselves of this truth this month, and let its beauty encourage us as we look forward to and work towards that reality.

U.S. Southern Border Crisis Litany

If you’re not sure what to say, or how to say it, when leading a prayer for the children who are still incarcerated in camps at the U.S. southern border, consider these words. For more information about the crisis at the U.S. souther border see this Do Justice blog post.  

Leader: Please join in a time of special prayer for the crisis at the U.S. southern border. Regardless of our political opinions, what is happening in the camps where children are being held is a tragedy that deserves our utmost care and concern. In this prayer you will together speak the bold words, from Psalm 28, while I speak words of prayer for this specific situation.

To you, Lord, I call; 

you are my Rock,

do not turn a deaf ear to me.

For if you remain silent,

I will be like those who go down to the pit.

God, we lift in prayer the children who have crossed the U.S. southern border, searching for a place that is safe, where there is the possibility of a hopeful future. They are in the pit of despair. Thousands of those children are today in camps -- camps that are too full, camps that don’t have adequate food and water, camps where they are sick, and afraid, and traumatized. Camps where they feel so, so alone. We call out to you for these children, God. Do not turn your ear from them.

Hear my cry for mercy

as I call to you for help,

as I lift up my hands

toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked,

with those who do evil,

who speak cordially with their neighbors

but harbor malice in their hearts.

God, we do not want to harbor hatred for those who are unlike us. Root it out of us. Help us to see the ways that we judge, that we look down on, that we dehumanize people who are created in your image. Help us to see the ways that we feel powerful and effective in the face of this crisis when we simply blame and disparage those who have a different political opinion than us. Help us to lift our hands to you, toward your kingdom, and shape our values and our opinions and our perspectives according to what we know about that Kingdom which has already come, but which is not yet fully here.

Repay them for their deeds

and for their evil work;

repay them for what their hands have done

and bring back on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord

and what his hands have done,

he will tear them down

and never build them up again.

Convict each of us, Lord, for what we have done, and what we have left undone, which has allowed this crisis to occur. God, we pray for accountability for those who have acted unjustly. We pray that those who can take responsibility will be moved to do so. We pray that those who can make change would find the courage to stand up to the powers that keep them afraid to do so. We pray for the President, for the leaders in federal agencies, for the employees at Border Patrol facilities, for those who interact with the children and families who are seeking asylum -- give them wisdom, compassion, and a striving toward all that looks like justice and peace. Destroy the policies and practices and attitudes that have caused such harm to them, Lord. 

Praise be to the Lord,

for he has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

and with my song I praise him.

Give us new hope, Lord. Dwell among your people. Deliver these children from their suffering, and if you will, use us -- your church -- to help to do it. Help us to know how to be stewards of what you’ve given us -- our money, our skills, our efforts, and the power of our voice and vote. Call us to be your partners, your workers, your servants in establishing your kingdom here on earth.

The Lord is the strength of his people,

a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

Save your people and bless your inheritance;

be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Be the shepherd for these children, God. Carry them. Today, and forever.

Amen.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice. We are a faith-based, nonpartisan organization that seeks to extend the conversation about justice with a posture of dignity and respect.

Suffering With: A Tender Journey of Mutuality in Suffering, Comfort, and Joy

By Cynthia B. Eriksson, Associate Professor of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary

From Fuller Studio

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Write “tenderly.” That was the prompting I felt from God as I prayed for the umpteenth time for guidance on how to write this article. I heard it in my heart: “Tenderly.”

Friends, this is a challenging journey.

The call to “suffer with” in the role of pastor, therapist, counselor, or chaplain is one that holds great joy and great sorrow. You have seen the best and the worst of people. The really difficult thing (that likely no one warned you about) is that you cannot go back. You cannot un-hear the stories that you have heard. You cannot un-know the types of evil and abuse that have been perpetrated on people dear to you. You cannot un-see the images of destruction, violence, or mutilation that have been in your gaze. You hold the reality of human life and human pain in your heart.

Depending upon your cultural and social location, the reality of evil and pain may be a challenge in different ways. If you have lived in relative privilege (as I have), you may have insulated yourself from an awareness of vulnerability or threat. Hearing the stories and seeing the pain dismantles that defense. If you are part of a community facing ongoing violence, attending to the needs of your people is a daily task. Taking the time to consider your own pain, or the cumulative impact of so many stories, may feel impossible. Navigating the space of suffering and trauma as a Christian leader in your community—shepherding and teaching, consoling and exhorting, celebrating and praising—can be exhausting.

Our theologies may even contribute to the vulnerability with which we approach suffering. In the human desire to avoid pain, we may create theologies that suggest that God does not want us to feel pain. How did my Protestant, white, middle-class church upbringing teach me that God wanted me to feel good? When did suffering and pain become something that indicated a lack of God’s presence, or a lack of God’s strength?1 The reality is that being human brings suffering. Caring for one’s fellow humans is painful.

The Cost of Suffering With

Henri Nouwen challenges readers to count that cost in his small but powerful book Can You Drink the Cup? 2 When James and John, the sons of Zebedee, press Jesus with their desire for a position of privilege and attention, Jesus asks them, “Can you drink the cup?” (Matt 20:22). Nouwen writes, “Jesus’ cup is the cup of sorrow, not just his own sorrow, but the sorrow of the whole human race. It is a cup full of physical, mental, and spiritual anguish.”3 Nouwen invites the reader to reflect on the actions this question implies: holding, lifting, and drinking the cup in its fullness of joy and suffering. This is not only the suffering that we ourselves face, this is the capacity to drink the suffering of others—to suffer with.

“Drinking the cup” in ministry brings us face to face with stories of unexpected tragedy, human betrayal, abuse, and evil. Hearing the details and caring for the storytellers makes the cup of sorrow personal and deeply painful. Psychologists have noted the extent of this pain. In her seminal book Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman writes, “trauma is contagious.”4 This contagion of traumatic events can spread as you hear a detailed account and picture the experience. Perhaps it is a young woman sharing about the night she was assaulted on a date. Or maybe it is a man describing what he saw when he regained consciousness in the wreckage of a car accident. The stories draw you in, and you become emotionally, physically, and spiritually engaged.

That engagement can have a cost. It is possible to develop posttraumatic stress disorder just by hearing stories about traumatic events from people we care about.5 The stories can stick, and the pain is real. It may be that these stories are reminders of earlier pain: memories of our own abuse, neglect, frightening events, or loss. It may also be that the accumulation of stories begins to wear down our capacity to process the emotions. The threat of tragedy and violation can become a shadow that colors our lenses on the world. We can begin to store up evidence that the world is not safe or that people are not trustworthy. All of those examples of pain can begin to cloud our ability to see the hopeful possibilities of human kindness, and we start to tell ourselves stories about the need for protection, control, or distance.

Physically, our bodies respond to the sense of threat. Our sleep can be disrupted with nightmares, or we can find ourselves easily irritated and jumpy. We may feel especially revved up or worn out. We might also notice that we avoid people, places, or things that remind us of the tragedies. Ultimately, we might try to avoid the feelings by disconnecting from others or numbing out with overwork, food, the internet, or other substances. Trauma specialists have identified this phenomenon as “indirect trauma,” “vicarious trauma,” or “secondary traumatic stress.”6

Suffering with can break your heart.

The Skills of Suffering With

It is tempting to create a type of wall around our hearts that allows us to hear the story but not feel the feeling. If caring about someone’s life is what opens us up to this pain and vulnerability, then perhaps finding a way to listen—but not to care—is the antidote?

The divine answer to that question is, “No!” Just as Jesus “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message), we are called to “move in” towards the pain. Further, connecting deeply with someone in the midst of suffering can actually become a means of protection against vicarious traumatization.7

Trauma clinicians and researchers suggest that the openness to feeling pain is an important part of working through vicarious trauma. Many of us who have written about resilience to indirect trauma (including myself) have emphasized the things that counselors or pastors can do outside of work time. Good self-care practices, such as healthy eating and exercise habits, and supportive supervisory and peer relationships are an essential part of reducing burnout at work.8 This foundational health is important, as there is evidence that experiencing burnout can make us even more at risk of developing secondary or vicarious trauma symptoms.9 However, in addition to these life balance and health choices, there are important emotional and cognitive skills that contribute to resilience in drawing toward connection with others.

Brian Miller and Ginny Sprang call moving toward the pain a “radical empathy,” which is a genuine empathy that draws us to engage and feel, rather than disconnect and stay at the surface.10 The skill needed in this moment is attention to our own feelings as we are present with others’. Noticing our feelings and naming them are steps to “metabolize” pain.11 When we try to suppress or avoid our feelings, leaving them unexamined and unresolved, we are at risk of bringing those feelings, and the associated physical and cognitive labor, into the rest of our day.

This is not a passive stance in the work of suffering with; rather, experiencing our emotions in this way is actually a skill we can develop. As we pay attention to our feelings, we are also paying attention to our bodily experience. A clenched stomach, tight shoulders, or feeling agitated or jumpy are all signals of our internal state. We can practice taking slow rhythmic breaths, pressing our feet into the floor, and grounding ourselves in the present moment.

Another active skill to practice is attention to rumination. Miller and Sprang note:

The content of ruminations involves a focus on what we are feeling, and is usually a passive re-experiencing of disquieting events. Ruminations often focus on judgments about the events or people involved and the negative aspect of what happened, or what we should have done, or what was so distressful about what someone else did.12

Rumination happens when we let our minds wander. You can hear the temptation to blame the self or others, to grasp at the illusion of control, or to worry. Yet we are called to “capture every thought” (2 Cor 10:5).

To combat rumination, we need to first pay attention and acknowledge when this is happening. Recognize that thinking again and again about a situation is not the same as problem solving (rumination actually reduces our ability to problem solve). Then, a key step in dismantling the ruminative process is to move from passive to active. Capture those wandering thoughts and shift them to active and specific thoughts. What can you do in that moment? It may be an act of advocacy or providing resources. Or, it may be an intentional choice to prayerfully give the situation

to God in lament or intercession. If you find yourself ruminating at other times of day, move to activities that require attention and build positive emotion (such as exercise or a productive hobby) or seek connection in relationships (and avoid isolation).13

As you reflect on the skills and resources you have developed to support the call of suffering with, ask yourself these questions:

What rhythms of rest and work have you found to sustain yourself?

What spiritual practices have you adopted to root your very self into the foundation of Christ’s love?

What friends and colleagues have opened their hearts and ears to your cries of lament and doubt?

What resources have you discovered that name the pain in language that helps you know you are not crazy?

What habits do you have to draw you out of rumination?

Now ask yourself, am I practicing these?

These are not simply questions; they are lifelines.

The Joy of Suffering With

The extraordinary promise in answering the call to “drink the cup” is that it is a cup of both suffering and joy. That is the paradox: in feeling the pain, joining the suffering, or “drinking the cup,” we find comfort and joy. Nouwen writes,

In the midst of the sorrows is consolation, in the midst of the darkness is light, in the midst of the despair is hope, in the midst of Babylon is a glimpse of Jerusalem, and in the midst of the army of demons is the consoling angel. The cup of sorrow, inconceivable as it seems, is also the cup of joy. Only when we discover this in our own life can we consider drinking it.14

The intermingling of suffering and joy is cultivated in the opportunity for mutual comfort and healing. As Paul writes to the Corinthians,

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings. So if we have trouble, it is to bring you comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is to bring you comfort from the experience of endurance while you go through the same sufferings that we also suffer. Our hope for you is certain, because we know that as you are partners in suffering, so also you are partners in comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3–7)

This is an active, healing, mutual transformation. In fact, notice that Paul uses the plural pronouns to remind us that both the comfort and the suffering are communal experiences.15 It is embarrassing to admit that for many years as a white, highly educated, upper-middle-class privileged woman, I held an idea of comfort as though it meant “comfortable.” I functioned out of an expectation that being “comforted” by God would allow me the strength to reach out and be a comfort to others. But what if it is less of a state of being, and more of an active process? By being in the midst of experiencing the comfort of Christ as I am honest and open to the suffering in my own and others’ hearts, I am available to be a channel of Christ’s comfort to others. We are sharing both suffering and consolation (v. 7). By being open to pain, I am open to Christ’s comfort, and in receiving that comfort, I am present to the pain of others.

In the drinking and digesting—metabolizing—of the cup of suffering, we experience the mutuality of joining in relationship. It is only when we are with the sufferer that we are blessed to hear the day-to-day grace, the moments of God’s provision, the gratitude for ordinary miracles, or the internal transformation of character that the Spirit works. As witnesses to this healing, we can also find the strength to bring our own pain to God and others. Through mutuality God’s transforming power continues to shape us.

Remember, though Paul was speaking about all affliction, it was in the context of being disciples of Christ. Living out the gospel brings pain and trial, but it also is rooted in the hope of the kingdom to come. As we suffer with, we are also challenged to consider what action we can take to bring change or justice.16 We are not simply called to comfort and be comforted, we are called to discern the unique ways that God has equipped us to act. We can move from feeling and thinking to acting.

As we suffer with others, we are comforted, invited to transformation, and moved to act in solidarity. The suffering sparks our indignation, the consolation reminds us of the hope of the kingdom coming, and God’s presence brings the joy that sustains us. This is a tender journey of mutual healing that ends with joy.


ENDNOTES

  1. Consider the reflections of Kate Bowler in her book Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (New York: Random House, 2018). Further, Mark Labberton interviewed Bowler for the Conversing podcast: fullerstudio.fuller.edu/kate-bowler-on-suffering/.

  2. H. J. Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2006).

  3. Ibid., 39.

  4. J. Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York: BasicBooks, 1992), 140.

  5. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

  6. For a recent review of literature on these topics see C.B. Eriksson, A. Wilkins, and N. Frederick, “Trauma, Faith, and Care for the Counselor,” in Treating Trauma in Christian Counseling, ed. H. D. Gingrich and F. Gingrich (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2017).

  7. R. L. Harrison and M. J. Westwood, “Preventing Vicarious Traumatization of Mental Health Therapists: Identifying Protective Practices,” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 46, no. 2 (2009): 203–219.

  8. Additional resources: International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, www.istss.org/treating-trauma/self-care-for-providers/; Secondary Traumatic Stress Coalition, www.stscoalition.com/; Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth, www.ictg.org/downloadable-guidelines/.

  9. K. Shoji et al., “What Comes First, Job Burnout or Secondary Traumatic Stress? Findings from Two Longitudinal Studies from the U.S. and Poland.” PLoS ONE 10, no. 8 (2015).

  10. B. Miller and G. Sprang, “A Components-Based Practice and Supervision Model for Reducing Compassion Fatigue by Affecting Clinician Experience,” Traumatology 23, no. 2 (2017): 153–165, 159.

  11. Ibid., 156.

  12. Ibid., 157.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup, 43.

  15. P. Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), 67.

  16. On October 30, 2018, at the Fuller School of Psychology Panel on Black Psychology, Thema Bryant Davis noted the ways that White Western psychology focuses on coping with symptoms of trauma, rather than creating change. See also T. Bryant Davis, Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005).

From Confusion to Clarity: Prolepsis and the Promise of Christmas

Bu Julie O'Connell
Associate Professor of English and Chair, Faculty Development Comm at Felician University

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

The great social problems of our day, the sexual assaults, the school shootings, the systemic racial injustice, the economic inequality, the anti-immigration sentiment, the unchecked greed (just to name a few) are rooted in self-centered fear swirling in existential waves of self-determination and its inevitable resultant despair. Still, there is hope. The promise of Christmas is the promise of well-being, safety, rest, and above all, peace. It is available to all of us by trusting in Jesus.

God gave the world peace through his son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, God opened a door through which we are always free to pass.

Every appalling news story, every Internet alert to dehumanization, every act of cruelty, violence, and division, is a desperate expression of spiritual displacement – of anxiety rooted in the self-centered fear of not having enough. In America, we have become chronically fearful of others because we are seeking our own counsel. Independence is so fundamental to who we are, and yet, when independent, self-determining individuals are constantly assaulted by divisive information, the result is perpetual fear. Sure, there is plenty of blame to go around, the chief suspects being the government, the media, the Internet, and the economy. But we live in a state of fear based on what we think about these challenges. We react over and over again in a state of perpetual anxiety. America is unwell: there is a growing disconnect between our minds, bodies, and spirits, as if we are post-traumatic beings who are triggered over and over again. The message of fear that we do not have enough, are not good enough, and that others are going to hurt us has led many of us to join well-defined groups that oppose others, which leads to even more division through racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, antiestablishmentism, etc. Fear is our cultural sickness, evidenced by us feeling uncomfortable in our own skin, unable to lay down at night or not being able to quiet our thoughts and truly rest because of nightmares and panic attacks. It was recently reported that the life expectancy in the United States has gone down because of deaths from opioid addiction and from suicide.[1] Both of these societal problems are a consequence of our society’s overall sickness: fear that is self-centered and entirely out of control.

God gave the world peace through his son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, God opened a door through which we are always free to pass.

Still, the promise of Christmas is a promise of peace. It’s a door we can always walk through. But how? How can we embrace Christmas and walk away from a world that is in total disarray and toward God?

The prophet Isaiah looked at the world through a finely tuned vision of being able to see into the future and say what he saw as having happened. In the 8th Century B.C., Jews were being held captive in Babylonia, and Isaiah shared with the world God’s ultimate promise to change things. Throughout the Old Testament, people turned away from God and did their own thing, and there were always consequences. Isaiah had a message of hope for the hopeless then, and the message holds true now. In Isaiah 9:1, he says, “there will be no gloom for those who were in distress.” [2] Imagine our anguish and gloom have gone away. Imagine no more trouble in our towns, our schools, our workplaces. Isaiah told us that God’s promise for us was as follows: “he will have made glorious the way of the sea, the territory beyond the Jordan—Galilee of the nations”[3]. This became the land where Jesus did his work. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light—those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined”[4] By speaking with confidence knowing it had already happened even before it had happened, Isaiah used a rhetorical device called prolepsis. [5] In his imagination, it was so real and he so thoroughly knew it would happen that he was able to utilize a verb tense that spoke of the future as if it were already in the past.

God can’t be happy with the way things are now. We are walking in so much darkness today, and yet, if we remember Isaiah’s prediction about Christ and the impact that a baby in a manger would have on our world, we can find peace on earth and good will for all of humankind. Imagine our world as Isaiah imagined it, using prolepsis. Imagine that the transformation to peace has already happened: complete cooperation, abundance, and freedom. No more bombs, no more hatred, no more starvation, no more war. Imagine that we have peace in the midst of chaos and peace within ourselves.

My well-being isn’t established by my achievements or by the amount of money I have. It also isn’t something that I can figure out on my own or control: it is found in following God’s will and being the person He created me to be. This is the promise of Christmas. In Isaiah 9:6, we read, “For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, authority rests upon his shoulders.” He is named Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus has wisdom that no one else has access to. He is trustworthy, and if we rely on His good counsel, if we draw closer to Him, we will be infused with the peace that passes all understanding. If we thank Him for these hard times and we consult with Him as we trudge down these difficult roads, He can accomplish total transformation. Everyday, let us walk through the door of Christmas and be fully confident that the problems of today will pass. Knowing Christ and relying on Him, in the face of our chaotic world, is the gift above all gifts.

[1] Stobbe, Mike. “Suicide, at 50-Year Peak, Pushes down US Life Expectancy.” AP News, Associated Press, 29 Nov. 2018, apnews.com/de75909c5bcc4162b122948539ed9c6a.

[2] The Holy Bible: International Standard Version Release 2.1. 1996-2012. The ISV Foundation. Online: https://www.biblegateway.com/.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Childers, Jospeh: Henzl, Gary (1995). “Prolepsis.” The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism. Columbia University Press.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice. We are a faith-based, nonpartisan organization that seeks to extend the conversation about justice with a posture of dignity and respect. 

MLK Day 2018: The Good Samaritan Revisited

On Martin Luther King, Jr Day, we not only honor the person and the impact of this Christian preacher and justice advocate, we also celebrate his words. Dr. King shared a powerful array of quotes during his lifetime that continue to resonate during ours. But on this MLK Day 2018, I’m particularly struck by this one: “Life’s most persistent question is: What are you doing for others?”

Leadership After the Cross

Easter has come and gone, or so it may seem. While Easter is a tremendous weekend of church services, family gatherings, and holiday traditions, the significance of Easter really doesn’t fit in the package of 3 days of festivities. The significance of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection continues far beyond the days, months, and year after Easter Sunday. But most of us tend to put the importance of Easter in the same box as the plastic Easter eggs – shelving it until next year. But especially for Christian leaders, Easter must be outside that box, in our hearts and minds, reverberating throughout the year. We must daily consider those days of Easter for what they represent in every day of our lives and our leadership.

An Easter Reflection for Leaders: Triumphant Entry and Sacrifice at the Cross

The week that stretches from Palm Sunday through Easter is the most significant week of the Christian’s year. Historically and spiritually, this week marks Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His ultimate sacrifice at the cross, and eternal victory over death. While the theological and historical importance is apparent, these same events teach some marked lessons on leadership – through the example of Christ.