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I've been writing so much for other projects that I haven't felt led to update much on here. This past month has been filled with papers & projects for schools, commissioning questions and fun projects at church.

I keep wanting to add up the number of pages I've been writing for various things. It's got to be over 50 by now. I sit down at my desk at home each morning, light a candle, turn on a space heater near by and go to town. It's actually been a fun rhythm. (Shh...don't tell anyone!)

Right now I am focused on two things. I get to preach at one of our Christmas Eve services this year. First time for that. I've been thinking a lot about what to say and not say. What God wants people to hear. The best way to convey that. Thinking about what different types of people who come to church on Christmas Eve might be going through. This obsession led me to mobilize our UMC Young Clergy group to host 30 minutes of prayer on Thursday, December 17. I'm looking forward to lifting up prayers for those who will attend and lead worship.

If you want to join in, here's the details.

The other thing I'm focused on is experiencing Christmas in a different way this year. We're going through Advent Conspiracy with our teens. I want to spend less on gifts and spend more time with people I love. But I struggle with the desire to still give a physical gift that represents that love.

I'm very excited to have my mom, dad, sister and her husband and one of my brothers coming to our house for a week during Christmas. When I moved out of Alaska, I didn't think we'd ever be together on Christmas Day again. It just doesn't happen in pastor's families. So I'm very aware of how special it will be for Aaron and I to experience Christmas with both of our families this year.

May God's decision 2,000 years ago be real in your life in a surprising new way this season.


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Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…