This is What all Leaders Need

The New Year is for reflection, fresh starts, and making adjustments. Have you considered, “What will help you stay focused this year?”


There is strength in a song that compels us to respond with clapped hands, lifted voices, stomped feet, and waving arms. There is power in a song that can pull on our emotions—make us shed a tear or reflect on an old memory. Sometimes a good tune makes us jump up and dance. It reminds us that we have soul, that we know a little something about rhythm and perhaps blues. Meaningful lyrics evoke a response by reminding us that we are human, connected through this shared experience we call life.

But too often the songs we love most—those things that bring us life—are drowned out by screaming kids, packed schedules, and burdensome responsibilities. When our lives are so consumed with meeting expectations, trying to measure up, and fulfilling the needs of others, we lose sight of ourselves. We forget who we are, what we need and want, and where we’re going. This sense of loss can become a dangerous reality in the life of leaders. To avoid this danger, we must intentionally practice personal leadership, or what I sometimes refer to as self-care or self-leadership.

The Art of Self-Care

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Caring for one’s well-being is necessary for those who intend to lead for an extended period, and it requires heightened self-awareness. There are personality tests and leadership diagnostics to help determine your personal needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Sustaining healthy relationships and building an affirming community can help ease some of the emotional strain life may bring. Intentionally developing a natural rhythm that brings purpose and significance to your life, however, are perhaps even more important than relationships and self-awareness.

When I was in the Navy, I worked out daily because it was required of me. I didn’t always like the discipline, but I loved the results. Working out increased my daily energy, gave me a good “attack” to start the day, and increased my capacity to enjoy the food that I loved. But after so many years of rigorous training, I needed a break. Five days of workouts every week dwindled to three, then two, and two eventually became none. I had exchanged a rhythm of fitness for a rhythm of desk work. I noticed that the more weekly responsibilities I had, the less I worked out—my physical fitness was the first thing I sacrificed for ministry. Within months, I had gained a few pounds, lacked energy, slept fitfully, and suffered from body aches. In order to gain back the rhythm I once had, my life needed a complete overhaul.

Continue reading here.

Use Your Name for Good

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Today is not just for education, but for action.

Put an End to Modern-day Slavery. That has been the consistent message and desire of advocates. For at least two years, I have been lobbying with the International Justice Mission so Congress would pass the End Modern Day Slavery Initiative (EMSI). Take a look at this video we did:

After a lot of prayers, persistence, and hard work, language from this legislation was recently authorized in December 2016.

With a new legislation and Congress, we now need to ensure that this initiative is fully funded. You can help us in this effort by simply signing your name to a petition. You may think to yourself, “Signing my name won’t make a difference.” I am here to say that you are wrong.

Continue reading “Use Your Name for Good”

“Hidden Figures” Teaches How Injustices Remain Hidden

I had the pleasure of watching the movie, “Hidden Figures” during opening weekend. It was a birthday gift to myself. I love seeing well written stories and brilliant acting on the big screen, and my heart gets all the more excited when those stories are being told about and by beautiful black people. Such is the case with this movie.

Who Were the Hidden Figures?

Hidden Figures is inspired by the real life stories of three African American women—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—who literally changed the face of NASA, the United States of America, and indeed history.

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Throughout the movie, the all-star cast led by Academy award winner, Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan); an Academy nominee, Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson); and Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson) approach the challenges of being black and woman with a great deal of intellect, grace, and even some wit. It addition to telling this great American story and introducing many of us to these American sheroes, the movie provides a history lesson and a glimpse into some of the systemic injustices that remain hidden and why.

Let me begin here: When watching a movie that is based on or inspired by a true story, it is sometimes difficult to determine how much of the movie is historically accurate and how much filler is required to effectively bring the story to light.

We know from reading the Bible that a narrative can begin in one place only to have the story pick up in another place. When that happens, we long to know the in-between (like what transitioned in Jesus’ human life between the time that his parent’s lost him and he was “about his father’s business” in the temple, until the time that he began his earthly ministry in his early thirties). Sometime we are just left wondering. At other times, we try to fill in the gaps as best we can with the information that we do know.

In this instance, there is much to know about these women themselves (especially since Katherine Johnson is still alive), the federal government system in which they were required to operate, and the time period that they grew up in to fill in the unknown gaps with some integrity.

The time period was the early 1960s in America. The focus of NASA and the federal government was the Space Race (how Americans could get into space first). The Russians beat us by successfully having the first human journey into outer space in the spring of 1961. This defeat—what American government leaders saw as humiliation on the world’s stage—along with our concern for national security and distain for Russia was the catalyst that changed the personal and professional lives of these courageous women.

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.