Blog

Disturbing the comfortable & comforting the disturbed.

Staff thoughts and life lessons about poverty, injustice, leadership, religion and other social issues in the world today.

10 Ways to Dishearten People… and the Reasons It’s Important We Do

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

  1. Make someone feel worse for something they already feel bad about. Usually people know when they screw up, but in case they don't, make that your job.
  2. Always find the negative in every situation. This will effectively cause people to not want to talk to you about things they are excited about.
  3. Make someone feel small, so you can feel big. When you're insecure, this will help you feel better about yourself.
  4. Always look for the opportunity to be able to say, “I told you so”. This will help you appear smarter than you really are.
  5. Burst people's bubbles with “welcome to the real world”-type comments. This will help you feel better about your own disappointments.
  6. Never encourage people or affirm their strengths. You're doing them a favour by making sure they never become proud.
  7. Don't acknowledge or validate people's disappointment or pain. You're doing them a favour by helping them not wallow in it.
  8. Default to “no” unless you have good reasons to say “yes”. Life is usually too easy for some people, so we're really helping them by making it a bit harder.
  9. Point out other people’s mistakes or imperfections. This is a really effective way to motivate people to improve… and it will help you feel better about yourself.

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Western Christian Cultural Entitlement

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

For those who think we should send missionaries to Syria and not have Syrians in Canada or the … isn’t that hypocrisy?

For a couple of decades now, Christians in the West have been decrying the de-Christianizing of our culture. Prayer in school, handing out the Gideon's bible, the change from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays was just the start. Those issues now seem like child's play. 

Now we deal with issues of gender orientation, immigration, and home-grown terrorism. While we once took pride in the pluralism and tolerance of our nation, there is a constant heap of faith-based posts and shares lamenting how much we have strayed from our Christian roots. 

While it might sound mission-like, is taking our country back to its "Christian roots" really what God wants for us? What if our pluralism and the hostility to all things Christian was exactly what God wants for Christians?

The social media commentary I read, even from Christian leaders, doesn't sound at all missional. It sounds like, protectionism, fear of other faiths, loss of control… and even racism. It actually sounds more like a white European entitled idea that this country should be full of people like me. 

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Does the Bible Support Capitalism or Socialism?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

In short, yes!

It is unfortunate, but normal, that we look for scripture to validate our previously held convictions. I have read lots of proof texting by proponents of free market capitalism to convincingly support all of the values and behaviors of market-driven economics. But, I always wonder (mostly to myself until now), are capitalists using scripture to justify consumerism and materialism? I have also read lots of proof texting by proponents of socialism to convincingly support the values and behaviors of compassion and social responsibly. And I equally wonder to myself, are socialists using scripture to justify entitlement and avoid personal responsibility?

I’m really tired of the conservative/liberal debate and the camps built around each one. Our current political context constantly pits one against the other. I am even more tired of Christians who say that to be one or the other is more “Biblical.” I googled, “the Bible and Capitalism” as well as “the Bible and Socialism,” and was immediately directed to dozens of passages that seem to support each one. I read many of them and came to the same conclusion I started with. The Bible teaches both—prescriptive and descriptive.

The Bible teaches us to work hard and take personal responsibility for our actions and for our families. It teaches us not to be lazy and to enjoy the work of our hands. The Bible doesn’t teach that wealth is wrong, but that the love of it is.

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Stop Trying to Be Close to God!

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 5 minute read

In our experiential and consumer-based culture, we have placed way too much stock in the emotional component of our faith. Think about how you evaluate the quality of your spiritual walk. How much does experience and emotion play into your evaluation?

  • “I haven’t felt close to God for a while.”
  • “God hasn’t answered my prayers.”
  • “God has felt distant lately.”
  • “I read my bible, go to church, and try to pray, but I don’t feel any different.”
  • “My spiritual life is dry.”

All of these types of evaluations are based on our efforts to “be close.” It’s as if contemporary evangelical spirituality is all about doing our part to find God’s presence and proximity. It’s as if He is allusively waiting for us to find the formula that activates His closeness in our lives. What a pile of unnecessary and unbiblical work. In my passion to experience God’s presence, I grew up looking more for an experience instead of Himself.

Beyond spiritual exhaustion, this faulty thinking also makes us vulnerable based on our circumstances of life. If God’s presence in our life is based on experience, what happens when the normal storms of life knock us around? If life is hard, then God must not care or even exist.

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The Deserving Poor

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 4 minute read

Transparently… when I think about times I have responded to the poor… I have played a little game in my mind. Whether it’s been someone down the street, or on the other side of the planet, I put that person in crisis through my little self-righteous test.

Like most of us, I’ve been confronted by the homeless addict saying they are looking for food when they are more likely looking for a hit. I’ve also been confronted by the most extreme poverty and suffering on the planet. I’m embarrassed to say there are times I have put people in need, and my response, in two categories: The deserving poor and the undeserving poor.

If it’s clear to me that someone is undeserving of their poverty and suffering, I find it so easy to find grace and respond. I can ooze empathy in those situations because I can imagine how I might feel if I suddenly found myself in that place of vulnerability and need. Such compassion is easy to muster. It’s hardly even a thought. It’s instinctual and almost automatic. There is rarely a decision to make, and almost anyone would respond. Responding to the undeserving poor is so incredibly fulfilling.

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Shame and Religion's Role

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 4 minute read

Guilt is, “I did something bad;" shame is, “I am bad;” a devastating distinction if we don’t know the difference.

I can’t talk about shame without acknowledging the work of Dr. Brene Brown. She has brought a message of hope and healing with her research about shame and I’d more than suggest you read whatever she writes. Anyone who influences anyone should be keenly aware of what shame is and when we do it, even inadvertently.

What kicks me in the gut, as a Christian Leader, is the role that religion plays in shaming people. The very force that should give life, often kills someone's soul.

Someone I know well was removed from their lifelong Christian community after some bad choices. The result was devastating. This person fully admitted guilt and took responsibility. Guilt was a good motivator to change behavior. However, from a spiritually-motivated focus on behaviour, the “consequence” was rejection. The message was, “I am acceptable if I do good…and I am rejected if I do bad.” That’s the difference between I did something bad (guilt) and I am bad (shame).  

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The One Certainty for All Uncertainty

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 4 minute read

The US election results. The war with ISIS and terror. Helplessly watching the disaster in Syria. Global insecurity. Closer to home? My kids. My marriage. My job. My finances. Feel out of control?

We in the West have this addition to certainty. We franticly scramble to ensure predictability and security in our lives. Most of us don’t like change, and all of us hate unwelcomed change. The resourced global West has been built on the value of being in control of our own lives; the result is a life distanced from God. The reality is we would rather In sha have certainty than intimacy with God.

People from non-Western nations have an advantage over us Western control freaks. In sha allah is Arabic for “if God wills”. Mañana is Spanish for “tomorrow or later,” referring to a tolerance for the uncertainty of today. Various Eastern faiths believe in karma: what goes around, comes around. All in recognition that we are never really in control of our lives. There is always something beyond our control that might affect the outcomes I desire. And that is incredibly biblical.

In a section on the topic of drawing close to God, James writes this:

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Top Ten

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

I’ve consumed my fair share of leadership books, and there are many. So many…that we can easily get lost in the sea of what to spend hours of our precious time reading. If we are going to make that kind of a time investment, where should we spend it?

For what it’s worth, these are my top 10 in no particular order.

  1. The Take of Three Kings – by Gene Edwards
  2. Living Close to God – also by Gene Edwards
  3. The Bible – by God
  4. Leading Leaders – by Jeswald W. Salacuse
  5. Start with Why – by Simon Sinek
  6. Difficult Conversations – by Stone, Patton & Heen
  7. Servant Empowered Leadership – by Don Page
  8. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Timothy Keller
  9. Leading Change – by John P. Kotter
  10. The Emotionally Healthy Leader – by Peter Scazzero

There are many more that AMLOST made the cut, but if I could keep only 10 books for the rest of my life, in order to lead well, I’d pick these.

My purpose for writing this wasn’t to promote books. If leaders aren’t healthy, neither will their organizations, families or businesses. Whatever you do, continue to put yourselves in places of feeding.

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If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

I was struck recently by the satirical and cynical nature of our society and how the Church has swallowed this hook in many ways. It’s almost impossible to live in a culture and not wear it’s clothes. 

I wonder why it is that we so quickly can become critical or judgmental of other people? Next time you are in a conversation with someone, about someone else, try and notice the tone or content of your words. How much of the conversation is praise about other people instead of what you don’t like about them?

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”  

Jiddu Krishnamuriti 

We often seem to be drawn to focus on other people’s imperfections, frustrated that they don’t live up to my expectations. There can be so many great things about someone, but we have to find and fixate on a weakness of theirs? Seriously?... Why do we do that? Why do we find it more satisfying to talk about people's failures rather than the great things about them?

Could it be that we make people feel or sound small so that might I feel bigger about myself?

Do you have a hard time when other people are praised? Do you feel the need to share something negative, or “equalizing”, about them to somehow “balance” a perspective? “WELL…(you think, or say)….you don’t know what I know about them!"

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Overdone Strengths

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

One of the most profoundly freeing truths to understand about relationships is that our weaknesses are simply our strengths overdone and on display. When people are inconveniently not like me, they can become really frustrating. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to see everyone through my filter and value system; and it takes real discipline not to judge people using my values as the most valuable.

We all like to function in our areas of strength. We naturally behave, or live in ways where people affirm our worth. The problem comes when we don’t know how to control our strengths. Our greatest strengths, taken to extremes, become our biggest weaknesses. That’s why it hurts so much when we receive criticism from someone who isn’t like us. They are usually attacking the areas in our lives we feel particularly good about. Maybe some examples might help:

People who are good at details are often judged as “anal.”
People who are sensitive are often judged as unstable.
People who are private and introverted are often judged as disinterested.
People who are sociable are often judged as attention seeking.
People who are confident are often judged as arrogant.
People who are soft and amiable are often judged as flakey.  
And the list goes on...

All of these are our strengths, the gifts God has given us. But, our very strengths—overdone—become our weaknesses and opportunities for conflict. So how do we respond?

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