Bill Walsh on Excellence

I love this…insert whatever your craft might be in place of football…

“I hate to see bad football. I hate to see a team play bad football, even on a single play–in practice, in a game, anywhere. Bad football makes me ill in the same way, I suppose, a symphony conductor hates to hear an orchestra mangle Bach or Beethoven. There’s a reverence for the art. For me, it can be described as a reverence for football as it could be played–the exquisite beauty of what can occur at its uppermost level. I think top performers in all professions have that same deep respect–even reverence–for their work.”

Bill Wash, The Score Takes Care of Itself

Some New Thoughts on Sabbath

I once had a ministry supervisor say to me: “Sabbath’s are encouraged, just don’t let your sabbath interfere with your work.”

When I came back at that comment with: “I think that’s actually the point of a sabbath: to interfere with and interrupt our work,” there was some back tracking, but the point was clear. You are here to work, don’t let anything get in the way of that!

Amy and I have tried to sabbath throughout our life together to varying degrees of success.
To be honest, we haven’t been that good at it.
We haven’t let sabbathing interfere with our work.

One of our commitments in this new chapter was to start practicing some good habits right out of the gate.

Monday is our sabbath. So, far we’ve done a good job of it. No work, ministry, or prep takes place on Mondays. Just family stuff.

Sometimes we go to Costco.
Sometimes we explore Oakland.
Sometimes we just stay home and make pancakes.
Sometimes we go to the park and then to a great family cafe for lunch (this is our favorite).

We don’t check much email (I don’t check my work email at all).
We don’t do too many chores.
We do try to have fun.
We are absolutely with each other.

I titled this post “new thoughts,” but really there are no new thoughts, just a better, more disciplined practice.

And it really is making a difference.

We all recover from Sunday.
It reorders and prioritizes the week.
It is renewing and refreshing and all the things sabbath is supposed to be.

I know this will grow more challenging and more disruptive as we move into future phases: Amy returning to work, the kids going to school, sports and activities, more ministry opportunities and pressures.

 But I’m also beginning to see that we can’t give this up. The day may have to change, but the day off never should.

My new thought on sabbath is that this is yet another area of life that requires discipline. And discipline is hard, but rewarding. We are reaping the benefits.

Please, friends, let sabbath interrupt your work.

It’s worth it.

What I Get To Do

One of the weirder parts of our transition to California is that while we had at least three opportunities to share about what we were going to do in a public setting, we never got the chance to actually do it.*

So, I thought I’d take a post to share a little bit about what I/we get to do here in Oakland.


I get to help our new church build a culture of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly in our neighborhood and city.
I get to pastor and shepherd and teach.
I get to learn and serve alongside a diverse group of people. I mean crazy diverse. In every possible way. Google employees and homeless folks, old and young, parents and kids and single folks, and on and it goes.


Amy and I are facilitating/teaching a class for 8 engaged/recently married couples and we are having a blast preparing for and interacting with this group.
I’ve been able to preach three times already.
I’m getting to build needed systems and structures.
I’m meeting with and coaching small group leaders.
I’m helping coach our Pais interns.
I get to have conversations with people who have serious questions about God.
I get to disciple.
I get to lead.


I get to be home 5 or 6 times a week to help put our kids to bed.
I get to ride my bike to work every day.
I get a sabbath.
I get to live in the most diverse city in the country, wear shorts most of the time, and hug Buster Posey (ok, that last part is a lie, but IT COULD HAPPEN).

I don’t have words to express the gratitude I feel on a daily basis.

Thank you Jesus.

*I’ve written about some personal lesson I’ve learned about transitions, but I hope to write a post soon on the leadership lessons I learned during this season. 

Something New

It feels way too early to write an excellent post on how to transition well into a new position. (I highly recommend my friend Ryan’s post here on his career transition). So, rather than write a presecriptive post, I’ll just share a few things I’ve done and maybe someday I’ll write a part II and tell you whether they were good ideas or not!

1. Learn

Ask a lot of questions and listen to people. Especially people who have been around your church/company/work environment for a long time.

Read The First 90 Days.

Read the by-laws…study the web page…learn the software…whatever it takes. LEARN.

2. Stay Focused

Maybe you took an entry level job and like Ryan you need to say yes to just about everything. But, if you were hired to do a job that has a specific job description, do whatever it takes to stay on that job-description. Be strategic.

This is a hard one because it can feel arrogant/lazy to say no to things, but if you are supposed to fix computers don’t sign up to bake cookies. Focus is better than busyness.

3. Work Hard

This is where Ryan’s post is extremely helpful. Hustle, get after it, throw yourself into your to-do list.

Show up, show up on time, do the work.

And have fun. You took a big risk, you landed somewhere, this is an opportunity, so take advantage of it.

Summer Reading: The Art of Non-Conformity

First up off the summer reading list: the Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. Last summer I received my introduction to Chris’s world and the quest for World Domination when I attended the World Domination Summit, and I thought it would be good to revisit some of what I learned through this book.

The essence of Chris’s work is this: live free, be your own boss, and make a difference in the world. More simply stated: live intentionally.

I love Chris’s ideas and agree with almost everything he has to say (who doesn’t want to live a remarkable, unconventional life), and I find a lot of crossover between ministry (especially para-church, fundraised ministry) and entrepreneurship.

However, I also experience a rub with the ethos behind Chris’s ideas. There is an inherent individualism in the quest for “world domination” (read being awesome and doing your own thing instead of working for the man) that runs counter to being married, being a parent, and being a follower of Jesus.

Chris would argue, and I’d mostly agree, that all too often we are encouraged to step in line and live conventional lives because it is the responsible thing to do. We, as a family, have chosen to live unconventionally, so I totally understand that it is possible.

But, I cannot make the same radical commitment to personal autonomy that he has made without sacrificing some of my relationship to my wife, daughter, or the ministry I lead.

The more important point here, though, is the call to live intentionally, and this can, and should be done, no matter what stage of life we are in.

Far too many of us drift through life, expecting other people to give us a shot, hoping that we might, maybe get what we want. Few of us take matters into our own hands, and go for it.

To quote Chris Martin (of Coldplay): “We can’t dance like Usher, we can’t sing like Beyonce, we don’t write songs like Elton John, we just do what we can and go for it.”

And that is Guillebeau’s point: stop worrying about not being Usher, and instead know who you are and go for it!

Chris does a great job of laying out some important areas of life where intentional choices matter: work, money, time, travel, passions, interests, and leaving a legacy.

The book is inspiring, but practical; challenging, but quickly applicable.

I’d highly recommend it for anyone needing a reset, trying to get some clarity on life goals, or for recent college graduates.

Simon Sinek on Work-Life Balance

“This is what work-life balance means. It has nothing to do with the hours we work or the stress we suffer. It has to do with where we feel safe. If we feel safe at home, but we don’t feel safe at work, then we will suffer what we perceive to be a work-life imbalance. If we have strong relationships at home and at work, if we feel like we belong, if we feel protected in both…we do things for each other, look out for each other and sacrifice for each other…we have a feeling of comfort and confidence at work that reduces the overall stress we feel because we do not feel our well-being is threatened.”

From Leaders Eat Last

Enthusiasm and Joy

First, go watch this.

Now, not everyone is wired up like Jim Harbaugh. And that’s a good thing. Not everyone will express their joy and enthusiasm in quite the same way, but no matter how you are wired up people have a very visceral, gut-level reaction to you and what you do.

Do people sense your joy? Do people absorb your enthusiasm for what you do? Why or why not?

You don’t need to be a rah-rah head football coach to be able to inspire people with the joy and enthusiasm.

Let it show!

Thanks Marina

On Friday’s I get to hang out with this beautiful little girl.

HPIM6510 HPIM6511

I don’t get work done on Fridays. Maybe a few emails, maybe a couple of minutes on this project or that assignment.

But, for the most part, normal work ceases.

However, Friday is not a sabbath.

It’s still work.

But in some ways, Fridays work like a sabbath. I have to let go of my work…of being productive…of getting everything crossed off my list.

Because there’s always more to be done…always another meeting to take…always another project to tackle.

So, thank you Marina, for helping to slow me down.


‘Craftsmanship’ may suggest a way of life that waned with the advent of industrial society–but this is misleading. Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.

Every good craftsman conducts a dialogue between concrete practices and thinking; this dialogue evolves into sustaining habits, and these habits establish a rhythm between problem solving and problem finding. The relation between hand and head appears in domains seemingly as different as bricklaying, cooking, designing a playground, or playing the cello–but all these practices can misfire or fail to ripen.

There is nothing inevitable about becoming skilled.

~ Richard Sennett “The Craftsman”

Not Worth It

I wrote two weeks ago about a “faithfulness deficit” in our culture. I continue to think about this.

I had a conversation the other day when a new thought struck. I don’t have a well articulated theology of spiritual warfare, but I do think a way the enemy attacks the church in the west is through undermining faithfulness.

We question whether the hard work and the rejection and the nastiness and the disappointment is really actually worth it. Someone stabs us in the back and steals our job. Someone we trusted turns out to be completely untrustworthy. We ignore a gut instinct and it comes back to bite us so we question our ability.

I have experienced all of those things and I’ve talked to other leaders who have experienced those things in just this last week.

I think about the conversations I’ve had in Acts this semester with students. I think about the blogging our staff has been doing through the Psalms. I realized this is a tension everyone feels, and has been feeling for thousands of years. David was hated and people tried to kill him. Paul was run out-of-town. So was Peter.

When injustice wins, when we get screwed, when it all blows up in our face, it rocks our world. It rocks our theology. It rocks our logic.

I keep coming back to this reality: not even Jesus could control the outcomes. He was rejected and despised in a big way, but also in a lot of other small, more subtle ways. Like this and this and this.

All you can do is throw yourself into the work and then let go of the outcomes. We can’t control what people will say about us, or what people will think of our work. But we can do the work and we can give it everything we have.

Again, we can’t control the outcomes, but we can choose to stay faithful. And that is a difficult but courageous choice.