Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Leadership of Richard Carlson

Dr. Richard Carlson's death this week forced me to pause and reflect on the style and quality of leadership he brought to North Park Theological Seminary for over 30 years and to the larger Evangelical Covenant Church denomination.
Institutions run the risk of two ends on a spectrum: loyalists and individualists. The loyalists are those who come from "the tribe". In this case, the Evangelical Covenant family. Richard was of "the tribe". He was deeply and intimately familiar with the nuances and peculiarities of the Covenant. In many conversations together, he always out storied me with details about the life and foibles of denominational leaders and specific church histories. He knew who said what, when and where. He knew the back story to policies and initiatives. He was a deep trove of solid information.
But being of "the tribe" did not mean he could not critique "the tribe." Richard's loyalty did not come with blindness. He could critique both people and positions he thought were not in keeping with the pietistic principals of the school or denomination. On more than one occasion I saw him criticize what he believed was a flawed decision or direction. And it was not polite passive criticism, but directly to the face of those in leadership.
What concerns me about future leadership is the bright leader with little knowledge of "the tribe" but lots of confidence in their intellect and brilliance. Leaders who craft and groom their personal brand and opinions in isolation from the broader community are interesting to read and listen to, but do not necessarily bring long-term health to "the tribe."
I thank God for godly and gifted leaders like Richard Carlson, John Weborg, Phil Carlson, Burton Nelson, Glenn Anderson, Frances Anderson and many, many others who led us over generations. May there be more!

Friday, July 26, 2013


 Grandpas were always old. My grandfathers never played. They sat and watched us and talked with our parents. They did not really talk with us but around us and about us. My parents were not that much different. They were a bit more engaged, especially my mom. They took care of our kids for several weeks on our first European trip as a couple. They took our kids by themselves at their cabin in Upper Michigan for a week. Martha's parents welcomed our boys to Camp Hanover for a week or two.
Then, I became a grandpa, first to Elise (above). Oh my! When they visit us or we them, I am drawn to her like a magnet. When I see her walking in the church campus with her parents or Martha, I abandon meetings and forget tasks to go walk with her. I love watching the way she walks from one distraction to another, completely absorbed by the world she sees. When she stands beneath me with her arms reaching up, I snatch her into my arms and cling to her as she clings to me. I am in love in a whole new way!
Then came Ella (above) who is now just over 6 weeks old. I just returned from a four day solo visit with Ella in St. Paul. When we visited Elise at that age, Martha and Anna dominated the care for her and I watched them (occasionally holding Elise when changed, but giving her back when crying or needed new diapers). In St. Paul with Ella, I was it. I was with her for hours while Jeff worked and Liz did chores. She interacts much differently than year-and-a-half Elise, but with no less intensity. When she finally focussed a stare on me and grinned, I melted. I found deep satisfaction getting a "nuk" to stick in her crying mouth between nursing and naps. And when she finally cried herself to sleep in my arms, I could hardly put her down
Oh yeah, grandpa-hood has hit me hard. I'll try not to inflict it on everyone around me, but it's a whole new perspective for me. Being a father was always a great privilege and joy. But in my youth I was too much in a hurry with my career and tasks to really sit and watch the kids. I think I missed a lot that I don't want to miss now as grandpa.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Colossians 1:23 "Don't Be Moved"

Sunday, July 07, 2013


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