Disturbing the comfortable & comforting the disturbed.

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

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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Movements, Organizations, or Institutions?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

We’ve always done it that way.

Saying “no” until we have a good reason to say yes.

A preoccupation with policies.

Overly-managed and under-led.

Most people have forgotten about the “why”?

Characterized by bureaucracy and control.

If these statements describe your organization’s default in decision making…you might be leading an institution not a movement. Every organization will naturally lean toward institutionalism unless you can hold onto the values that were present when you started.

It’s a natural lifecycle for every organization that gets past infancy and onto maturity. Vision leaks, inspiration wanes, and people feel like “it’s just a job”. At the start, everyone is focused on why the organization exists and the problem it exists to address. There is an optimism and a motivation that is larger than the start-up obstacles we face. People are captured by the ideal of a different future. And that ideal is worthy of sacrifice, scarcity, hard work and straightforward hardheadedness.

For all of the organization's that are skilled…or last beyond infancy, a danger awaits. It’s a subtle change that can even appear healthy. Maturity can easily transform into indifference. We start to risk less and protect more. We pat ourselves on the back and begin to coast for a moment. And very subtly our maturity becomes passionless.

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Never Enough

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

Are you ever overwhelmed by the unrelenting and exhausting feeling that it’s never enough?

And by “it," I mean everything. It seems that in almost every area of our lives, I need to be doing more of something. The list feels endless. 

I should exercise more. I need to get to those unfinished projects in the house. I should spend more time with the kids. I should be spending more time with my spouse. I should visit my grandparents more. I really should be connecting with extended family more. I should take baking to the neighbors. I should read that book that my friend recommended to me last year. I should get together with those friends who are hurting. I should really go to the hospital to visit my uncle. I should be making more money. I should call that person back and respond to a bunch of emails. We should have those friends over.

Then you add the spiritual to the list and the weight of guilt can be even more heavy.

I should pray more. I should give more. I should be reading my bible more. I should sign up to serve in a program. I should go to church more. I should be in a small group. I should be doing more outreach. I should share my faith more. 

Our society honors people who are busy. We value those who can do more. We measure people by their accomplishments and we motivate with guilt and obligation.

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Does God exist for you?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

Does God exist for you or do you exist for Him?

I don’t think there is a more critical question for us to answer. The way you answer orients the direction of your life and also sets foundational expectations upon which you will evaluate the quality of your life. Our secular culture has convinced us that our life is only about us, and that happiness comes from a greater focus on self, which has actually led us to greater emptiness.

Our self-obsessed western culture has dramatically affected how we answer the question. We think the world revolves around us. Individual rights have become the paramount value in our society. The default purpose of life is my happiness and my comfort…and nothing should get in the way of that.

And, even worse, spiritual people carry that same value into our spirituality. We think and act and pray like it’s God’s job to exist for our own wellbeing. He exists to make my life better, less painful, and more comfortable.

We treat the God of the universe like He is our personal assistant.

We think the best way to represent God is when our lives are healthy, prosperous and all-together. Not only is this incredibly unbiblical…it’s an insult to the millions of God’s people around the world who suffer daily and who still choose to constantly worship Him.

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Freedom From Religion

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

I desperately want to be freed from religion. I grew up religious; I trained for a religious career; I’ve traveled and been exposed to most of the world’s major religions. I’m done.

I have never been more finished with religion than I am today, and I have never been more in love with Christ either. I like how Paul said it. “I consider all my religious background as animal poop compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus.”

Phil 3, Paraphrase

By religion…I am referring to any system of belief that compels people to please a deity with rules, rituals, systems, and moral behavior. Religion is all concerned with the way we behave. It is rooted in the concept that God is good, we are not, and we need to act better. Religion is like a heavy backpack we wear that constantly reminds us we are not good enough, and we never do enough. And, it seems the more devoutly religious we are, the more we need to obsess on what we should be doing less of and more of.

Jesus came to show us the futility of religion and to free people from it. He came to end a religion that had become behavior focused. So many think that Christianity, or most religions, is about a behavior improvement process. The truth is that, because of grace, God actually changes our very nature. Grace and mercy don't mean that God tolerates our sin, it means that God completely removes our sin: past, present, and future.

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2015 Annual Update

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

We all want to have an impact. We all want our lives to have meaning and to make a difference. That desire in all of us is the image of a giving God living through us in a world that is desperate for His love. The reason you are receiving this is because you have made a difference, you have had an impact. Thank you for giving, or going, or in some way partnering with us in our vision—to see a world transformed by a global movement of compassion and justice, evidenced by the eradication of needless suffering.

As you thumb through this newsletter, know that these are just samples of transformation and impact. This newsletter isn’t to just report on charitable activity (it is easy to be busy and still not have an impact). Our prayer is that after you read through, you will be left with a deep sense of awe in what God has done in the lives of people He has placed on our path. Where there is spiritual apathy, we envision spiritual vibrancy. Where there is extreme physical suffering, we envision human flourishing. We are all about moving people toward life.

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Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

Is being altogether loving mutually exclusive of black and white? In today’s climate of moral relativism and faith-based reverse discrimination, isn’t it possible someone can be both full of Christ-like love AND convinced of the reality of a right and wrong? Can we love completely and still say, “You’re wrong.”?

I am tired of being misrepresented by narrow-minded, politically right, evangelical figures who have somehow figured out how to get an audience on a regular basis.

Their speech is full of “us and them” rhetoric I can’t see anywhere in scripture. They often use Bible proof-texting to justify their version of the “Christian life” and our need to go and make the rest of the world “like us”. Unfortunately, the media gives these people way more airtime than they deserve. They are embarrassing, and they make me want to drop my labels.  

But I am also tired of being misrepresented by equally narrow-minded, politically left, popular figures who claim I am phobic or hateful because I don’t agree with them. These leaders also get lots of airtime and have created a reverse discrimination and phobia towards the modern version of “Christianity”. And while I can honestly sympathize with how this “angry attitude” formed toward faith, it is childish to rant and lash out blanketing everyone who says they follow Christ.

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Leadership Pain — Book Review

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

As a leader, I was incredibly drawn to the title of this book. What leader doesn’t experience pain? At first, I thought the book was going to have a masochistic message. I was expecting, “Every leader experiences pain. Jesus did. So suck it up and keep serving.” I was wrong. Having read my share of leadership books, Leadership Pain is definitely among the most helpful books I’ve read that speaks to a leader’s soul. It’s a book that should be required reading for any leadership training or preparation.

Leadership Pain is both challenging and shepherding to leaders. Specifically, I really liked how Samuel Chand started each chapter with a testimony of leaders who have experienced pain. I also really loved how each chapter ended with a summary, suggestions on how to take the thoughts deeper and with a reminder of the main premise of the book: “you’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.”

I appreciated Chand’s tone in this book. He validates and identifies with leaders in their pain, but he also brings hope and meaning in the pain. Here is an example of why the book is so needed in our North American culture of Christian leadership.

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