Year: 2007

Reverse Mentoring or, Learning From Your Youngest

I have a personal mantra, “Leaders are always learners.” Recently I re-read Scot McKnight’s helpful posts on the “Art of Conversation.” (pt1, pt2, pt3) Scot points out one key element to good conversation is an interest in learning. Over the years I have come to believe we may learn from nearly everyone. My friend Spencer Burke has said, “If I am not a little embarrassed about something I said yesterday then I feel as though I have not learned anything today.”

Raising girls must be viewed as something of a deconstructive event for a man knowing only brothers and mostly male cousins growing up. When people wince at the word deconstruction it is often due to the lack of “re-construction” which must inevitably follow.

Our youngest turns 19 today. In fact, we thought of getting her up about 7:20 a.m. this morning to sing to her as it was about that time she was welcomed into the world. Her entrance and these 19 years have been for us a great joy. Along with her sister, I type this for often she does not like sentences that indicate something of a comparison, we parents have learned much in the process of “teaching.” Our learning did not stop at any milestone in her life and we do not see that happening as we hope to learn and teach for the rest of her life.


Now, that does not mean she will not one day set out on her own. It simply means we will always be learning – as will she. For instance, I am hoping to learn from her skill at photography. Spencer, who is a professional photographer, told me Tommie has a natural knack. Watching, talking, listening will contribute to what I learn as I hope to take better photos. (Tommie took this photo during the ice storm in which we lost power. She took this and other shots around her grandparents neighborhood.)

We have been blessed by our girls. Patty notes the difference in me raising girls. I assume she is giving me a compliment!

Happy Birthday Tommie! Enjoy your day. Keep teaching us. Keeping learning from others.

No debating The Great Debaters

Preparing for a wedding ceremony last week gave me cause to consider the differing ways people connect with media. The young couple selected a couple of musical pieces from one of my favorite groups, Coldplay. Wanting to understand the connection I spent time listening, reading lyrics and locating any back story on the two songs. These two young people found the lyrics expressive of the way their relationship brought deep and important meaning to their lives.

Undoubtedly when directors and producers select a movie script they often consider the same issues. We went to a later dinner and a movie with the staff of our church for a post-Christmas get together. Nathan suggested we see “The Great Debaters.” Others may be far better critics than I, but I suggest someone(s) ought to win awards for this one. Set in Marshall, Texas, the story of the debate team from Wiley College is nothing short of gripping.

Stories change lives. The intersection of Henry Lowe, Samantha Booke and James Farmer Jr. stirs us to  understand the way in which our relationships shape our very lives. Maybe this is an obvious assertion. But, in a day where we must constantly wrestle with an overconfident individualism, The Great Debaters does more than make us aware of the subtleties of a glance (like a son to a father or a father to a son). Thrown together on a debate team with an activist teacher makes for a window into just how redemptive relationships may be.

I do not want to spoil your trip to the show or your future rental. Instead, I would hope to encourage you to let the interactions of these students move to the deeper issues they unearth. Issues of power and control. Matters of race and religion. Actions of violence and non-violence. See if you are not taken by the closing argument of young James Farmer Jr.

Movies and songs offer little to debate when they beautifully expose the value of the “other.”

Not just about Killing … Children and Darfur

A couple of quick errands this morning gave me pause to stop by Starbucks. While waiting on my Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha I perused today’s edition of the New York Times on the stand in the coffee shop. This piece caught my eye as we continue to hope the situation in Darfur gets more international traction and the killing ends sooner than later. Now it seems the consequences of the fighting not only leaves many children orphaned, others displaced in refugee camps but now it appears what aid is reaching children is woefully inadequate as malnutrition is on the rise.

Read – Despite Aid, Malnutrition in Darfur Rises

Merry Christmas!

Hoping you enjoy a the day, the Season and the New Year in the Good News in Jesus.

Proper Confidence

Recent conversations with Scot McKnight and John Franke spurred me to pick up a copy of Proper Confidence by Leslie Newbigin. Both suggested this helpful for the current theological milieu.