Nov 262009

Today is Thanksgiving 2009 and we all have so very much to be thankful for. There are cliche’s like “counting your blessings” and having an “attitude of gratitude.” And those are good things. And there are even better things.

My journey of finding a more vibrant and thriving life is getting beyond the obligations of what I should do and responsibilities of what I have to do. Life is so much more rewarding when life can be what I want to do and what I love to do. And, all the better when this lines up with what the world needs, and translates into how I can better show love and kindness to people around me.

The power of gratitude and giving thanks is more than something nice to do on this annual holiday. It does a body good!

This short list from a beliefnet blog itemizes some of the distinct benefits of a daily dose of gratitude:

  • Increased joy in the simple things in life.
  • Ability to recover quickly from life’s setbacks and disappointments.
  • Improved relationships – people prefer to be around people who are grateful.
  • Greater physical stamina and energy.
  • Increased happiness and acceptance.
  • Stronger, healthier immune system.

It’s more than making a list and counting it twice. It’s seeing my life, the people around me, and the world, with new eyes. To see more than I can see. To give thanks more. To give more.

Be thankful because it’s good for you. Be thankful because it’s good for the people around you. Be thankful because it’s good for the world.

Nov 212009

Family resemblance. Twins look alike. Siblings look alike. People who have a few similarities can easily confuse others who aren’t familiar to them. You see, the world is really way more complicated than the market-driven society we live in that values simplicity.
Asians who look alike
The thing is, the Asians you know does not represent all Asian Americans nor the 34+ Asian ethnicities, cultures and languages that are lumped together under the umbrella of “Asian Americans.” Let’s not over-simplify.

The recent incident around the Deadly Viper book has stirred quite the confusion, particularly when the reaction from Asian Americans is very mixed. While some Asian Americans have been vocal about the offensive cultural insensitivities, other Asian Americans did not notice anything wrong. Those who didn’t see anything wrong remarked:

Some say offensive. Some say not offensive. This suggests there are (at least) 2 very different groups: sensitive and non-sensitive.

Is it good for the non-sensitives and non-Asians to bear with the concerns of the sensitives? From Romans 15:1, “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this…

To those without the gift of mercy, without this sensitivity, the stereotypical alpha male, the end of Deadly Viper as we knew it, appears to be censure, along with confusion. And in our haste to move things forward, move on, and get past “it”, I fear the loss of this huge opportunity to address the elephant in the room — why can’t the church talk about its racism, especially the unintentional and systemic ones?
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Nov 192009

Where have all the mentors gone? It saddened me to hear that Kyle Reed asked a dozen people to be his mentor, and to be turned down and rejected. What’s up with that?

Watch this interview to hear what Kyle wants to do to change this situation:

Kyle (on twitter @kylelreed) may very well be right, if a young person can’t find a mentor in their church for the Kingdom of God, they’ll find one elsewhere outside the church. So, add your comment below and get this conversation going!

Nov 142009

Missional communities are the conversations du jour among church leaders, escalating during the past few years. Now there are gatherings (conferences) that revolve around how we can be more missional. (Several local and regional gatherings have already happened, though I haven’t been counting.)
A regional (free) unconference about missional churches is happening this weekend called Verge LA. I’ll be there most of today. Definitely want to hear Kevin Doi, currently scheduled at 1:45pm, and you can watch via livestream at And, I’ll get to meet in person, JR Woodward, host of the unconference. (cf. my interview with Kevin Doi)

But wait, there’s more!

A national gathering is ramping up in Austin, called VERGE: Missional Community Conference.

Listen to my interview with Michael Stewart (one of the Verge organizers at the Austin Stone Community Church) about this national Verge.

I’m putting together a social media team for the Verge in Austin, those who will host online conversations around becoming & being missional communities, both before and during the Verge conference. Start those conversations via blog, Twitter, Facebook, podcast, Youtube, etc. Verge wants to empower and release conversations both online and on-site. Undoubtedly, (our hope is) the convos will continue even after the Austin gathering. Want to be a part of this social media team? Add a comment, especially if you’d like to win a free registration. One spot left.

And one more thing. I’ll be there, at both Verge‘s — would love to meetup with you on-site there!

Nov 062009

Conflict is something that will always be. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.” [cf. Sam Chand]

The incident regarding Deadly Viper had set the online world ablaze, and very uncomfortable words of pain festered in the open space [cf. read this summary]. My prayer was that the key leaders at the core of the conflict would resolve it privately, walking through their respective pains together with each other. This direct conversations has since happened offline in private, and an appropriate resolution is in the works. A public statement has been issued. I commend all involved for giving of their time and energy to walk thru this via dolorosa.

There’s already quite a number of thoughtful reflections about this incident posted::

I want to offer a few more ideas in debriefing, with which I’d anticipate some people would disagree with. Conflict in the open was a good thing for 3 reasons [cf. The Necessity of Open Disagreement by Stephen Shields] ::

  • This shows us what conflict resolution can look like. Conflict is not a pretty thing. We’ve all seen how ugly it can get, how destructive it can be, how it can ruin relationships. By being in the open, via social media, we saw how the conflict surfaced and moved towards live offline discussions, apologies, forgiveness, working towards resolution. There is a better way through the conflict. After all, conflict simply is. And I for one am tired of overly-positive spin that’s all too common in evangelical circles; I think the younger generation can smell spin a mile away.
  • We heard new voices open up their heart and soul. While I did not read every single comment in the initial blog posts, a wide range of voices from new names spoke up, both Asian and non-Asian. It is not easy for anyone to share their pains, particularly Asian Americans, for fear of being misunderstood, misrepresented, or shamed. Asians tend to be a little more (or a lot more) sensitive than non-Asians because of its shame-based culture. Social media empowers anyone and everyone to speak out. This helps us to empathize with the offended much more than signing a petition. (Now, not every Asian American finds this publication offensive, granted.)
  • We’ve got a long way to go with racial sensitivities in the church. A loooong way. Conflict that arose up over a relatively minor incident, in the whole scheme of things, shows how little experience we collectively have to just start any discussion about faith and race. And, yeah, these issues are complicated and messy. They don’t sell books nor increase conference attendance nor make churches grow rapidly in size. It doesn’t fit neatly in the systematic theology section.

Continue reading »

Nov 052009

Asian and Latino. Techie and Non-techie. Conference junkie and conference rock star. DJ Chuang and Rudy Carrasco. We’ve been friends online and offline. Now we’re thousands of miles apart. Web technology has kept us connected.

And one of the burning issues we often banter about is raising up minority leaders. People and organizations say they want to collaborate and have more diversity in their leadership, but it’s so hard to find qualified leaders to work with. Why is that?

We had a conversation about that in this wetoku-powered video. Watch it:

I have a feeling this is just the start of an on-going conversation. There are other issues, factors, challenges. On both sides of the aisle – those in the majority and those in the minority, racially and ethnically speaking. Chime in with a comment.

Nov 032009

Wow. These blog post comment threads at here and here about unintentional racial stereotypes is blowing up. Big. Time. [cf. summary]

I think that discussing highly-emotionally charged issues in an asynchronous public forum like the online blogosphere is mostly ineffective. One party describes the pain of the impact from the (alleged) offense, while the other party tries to describe the original intent, all sincere and good. To quote Sam Chand, “The difference between reality and expectation is conflict.” Both sides have unmet expectations. Both sides have different perceptions of reality. Conflict ensues. It’s more than misunderstanding.

I’ll confess that I’m rather new to the impact of public communications by influential leaders. I prefer a world of open book open source unfiltered communications, and am learning to filter and edit based on readers’ response. But realizing that words mean things, and sometimes words can be mean things to the listener even though the speaker didn’t intend it.

I’d be curious how other influential Asian American leaders like Eugene Cho, Dave Gibbons, Charles Lee, Ken Fong, would respond. My guess is that a direct conversation between Mike Foster and Soong-Chan Rah, in a safe private environment, will bring faster resolution than any further color commentary.

[update 11/4] Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite have issued a public statement that “some of our earlier messages … were mixed in with some defensiveness on our part. … we deeply regret anything we did to offend our Christian brothers and sisters in the Asian and Asian-American communities. … that is why are we reaching out this afternoon to hear the concerns and the best way to move forward together in a positive way that corrects past mistakes, respects individual viewpoints and, importantly, advances the ministry for everyone.”

Nov 022009

Swimming in a sea of leadership books, blogs, and programs, I’m frankly quite conflicted about what exactly is leadership. Sure there are a ton of aspects to developing and being a leader: skills, competency, character, knowledge, attitude, chemistry, discipline, passion, vision, relating, motivating, persuading, deciding, planning, ad nauseum.

In the pithy words of John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.

the-incredibles-1-sizedVery good. Everyone has influence. Everyone can impact and influence another person or even a group of people, for good or for bad. But does that mean everyone can be a leader? Can anyone be the leader of a company or organization? Who should be the leader of a group if everyone can be a leader? (cf. “Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” from The Incredibles)

So what the majority of the books and blogs and programs are not talking about leadership as merely influence. The leadership gurus are implicitly talking about another layer of leadership. Leadership is much more than being faithful, available, and teachable; much more than knowing your weaknesses, pain, or strengths.

The term that’s been suggested to me is: leadership capacity.

So while everyone has influence, each person has a different amount of leadership capacity. That capacity can grow, thus be developed. And some are naturally (and/or supernaturally) gifted with more leadership capacity right out of the womb. A leadership gift is a higher capacity. This means that a person who isn’t a gifted leader will probably not develop more leadership capacity than someone who is gifted.

The better question is: How much leadership capacity does a person have? How do you measure it?

Thank you Sabastian for a conversation that really cleared the air for me.