Category: Spiritual Leadership

The 5 Shadow-Casting Monsters of a Leader’s Inner Life


What makes someone a leader, actually?

Parker Palmer, in his fascinating book Let Your Life Speak, answers that question this way:

“A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there.”

I like this definition. It’s specific. But it busts the doors wide open on who can lead. Anyone reading this blog probably possesses the power to lead in at least one arena of life, however small.

The question then is, As leaders, will we project shadow or light onto the sphere of our influence?


BOOK CLUB: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

19daa-autobiography-of-martin-luther-king-jrI’m not quite finished with The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. But I want to keep the book club on schedule, so I’m sharing my thoughts on it today anyway.

His entire story has inspired me so far—as evidenced by the underlined passages on almost every page I’ve read!

What a gift, to get inside Dr. King’s head as he…

…processed his experience as a minority in our country:

“The first time I was seated behind a curtain in a dining car, I felt as if the curtain had been dropped on my selfhood.”  (more…)

Thoughts on MLK’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’

Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis

This weekend our nation celebrates one of our history’s greatest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Earlier this week, my friend Kristy mentioned a blog post featuring a quote from Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” I had heard quotes from the letter before, things like, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” But I had never read the whole thing through.


An Unhurried Life


“The truth is, as much as we complain about it, we are drawn to hurry. It makes us feel important. It keeps the adrenaline pumping. It means we don’t have to look too closely at the heart or life. It keeps us from feeling our loneliness.”

The Dangerous Women group I’m a part of is reading John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted this year. It’s such a great, practical book about spiritual disciplines. Part of our reading this month was a chapter called, “An Unhurried Life.” We thought it was quite appropriate that as moms of young kids, we were reading this during the holiday season! I mean, who has time to live an unhurried life at Christmastime?


If I Only Had a Brain

scarecrow b&w

“Show me a young conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

The quote above is often attributed to Winston Churchill. Turns out he probably didn’t ever say that. A similar phrase was first uttered by 19th-century statesman François Guizot.

Whatever the origin, it’s a quote I’ve often heard and pondered. As a conservative young adult, I took this phrase to believe (quite pridefully) that I had been brilliant enough to “get smart” at an early age.

But then a funny thing happened: As I’ve grown older (I’m now middle-aged), I’ve become much more liberal.


Taking the Teeth Out of the Tiger

TIME Tiger Mom CoverNo doubt many of you followed the recent controversy surrounding Amy Chua’s Wall Street Journal article, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” which was excerpted from her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

For those who might have missed it, here’s a recap:

Chua writes a book describing the parenting philosophy she adhered to while raising her two daughters. (So right off the bat, you’ve got the emotionally-charged issue of parenting on the table.)

But she also brings culture and ethnicity into the mix by labeling her parenting style “Chinese” while comparing it to a different style of parenting she calls “American.”* By doing this, Chua further complicates things by playing into racial stereotypes.

Then the Wall Street Journal posts an excerpt from the book and gives it an inflammatory title.

Soon everyone from morning news anchors to mommy bloggers enter the fray. People’s anxiety/pride/anger/insecurity about the way they were raised and/or the way they parent rises to the surface. Chinese-Americans and white Americans feel misrepresented and misunderstood.


Efficiency Or Relationship? (Lessons From The Borg*, Part 2)


A few weeks ago I posted about a time when an employee of mine experienced difficulty arriving on time for staff meetings. In my post I shared how—in hindsight—I created the perfect solution to the problem.

Or so I thought.

Several years ago I shared my story with a group of young leaders and asked them to simulate solutions to the problem. We had a great discussion. Then I shared my solution with them, expecting responses that proclaimed the brilliance of my (belated) idea.

But one of the young leaders said, “I don’t like your solution. You’re assuming the value of being on time to meetings is an absolute value. But in most cultures around the world, being on time to meetings isn’t a value at all. In most cultures relationships are much more highly valued than timeliness. You were just asking her to conform to your personal value.”