Are You a Boss or a Leader? (There’s a Difference)

Last fall I started reading a lot of books on leadership. John Maxwell, the Heath brothers, Seth Godin, and a few others have graced my bookshelf. So the question has been raised in my mind about how a leader operates as opposed to simply someone who is in charge. There are a lot of people in this world who are in charge, but they’re not leaders.

So how do you differentiate between a boss and a leader? Here are 11 different trait comparisons to help you!

1. A boss creates fear in a staff. A leader builds confidence.

2. A boss says, “I.” A leader says, “We.”

3. A boss knows how a job should be done. A leader shows how a vocation should be forged.

4. A boss relies on authority. A leader relies on cooperation.

5. A boss drives. A leader leads.

6. A boss fixes blame. A leader solves problems and fixes mistakes.

7. A boss rules over the problem 10% of the community. A leader works alongside the cooperative 90%. (One I need to take to heart).

8. A boss eventually causes resentment to grow. A leader fosters growing enthusiasm.

9. A boss makes work drudgery. A leader makes work interesting.

10. A boss sees problems as disasters that will destroy the company. A leader sees problems as opportunities to be overcome and learn from.

11. A boss says, “Go!” A leader says, “Let’s go!”

[For what it’s worth, I found this list from this blog. Check it out if you’d like!]

What sticks out to you about this list? What experiences do you have with bosses or leaders? Feel free to share them in the comments section!


Living the Questions: Where Are You?

Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This is the first post in the “Living the Questions” series. These are some reflections on the first 5 questions that God asks in the book of Genesis. For the first question, we turn back to Genesis 3: “The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But God called to them, and said, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:8-9)

When I was doing my chaplaincy internship at Good Samaritan in Minneapolis, we had a particularly intense time for our group where we’d work through a lot of our emotional past and talk about things that are extremely difficult to talk about. As an introvert, the beginnings of this exercise were a certain form of Hell. Every afternoon would start out with my supervisor going around the room and checking in. She’d come around to me and ask “Where’s Eric today?”

This was a question of location, though not geographical. A lot of times we think the question of “where” is simply a question of physical placement. But, like Adam and Eve, we often hide ourselves. We don’t want to be found out, exposed, embarrassed, or discovered. So we hide. And when we hide, it can be awful hard to establish exactly where we are.

So where am I right now?

Tough to say. One of the frustrating parts of seminary, is that it prepares you to be leaders of the “church of tomorrow”. But then we are sent out into the church of today. Things that we talked about in seminary simply aren’t factors in the parish — at least in mine. Even something as foundational as biblical interpretation isn’t discussed because the assumption is that we all read the Bible the same — after all, we are Christians, aren’t we? (that last bit should be read with mild sarcasm).

Also, when you’re in school preparing to be a pastor, no one tells you how absolutely lonely it is. It has been a really lonely first year in the parish. This is speaking as a newlywed and so I can only assume that being a single person in ministry can be just as difficult, if not more so. It’s terribly lonely.

So if I’m living this question of “Where am I?”, it’s a little depressing to analyze it. Sent out to a brand new place where we know next to no one, to lead the church of today after spending 3 years (and how much money?) learning how to lead the church of tomorrow.


In all of this, I have to remember who is asking the question and who is doing the seeking. When we don’t know where we are, when we may be more lost than found, there is One who refuses to let us stay lost. We have to trust, no matter what vocation you are currently serving — whether you’re a teacher, banker, or candlestick maker — there is a spirit that quiets our unease. Our discontent won’t stop tomorrow. But like the poet, Rilke, says, the point is to live the questions, not answer them.


Living the Questions: Introduction

A few weeks ago, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary said farewell to a highly esteemed group of graduates, including yours truly. It was the end of a journey and the beginning of another. A main event of the graduation weekend was the actual service itself. It was a combined baccalaureate/graduation service.

Our preacher was our former sem prof [and current Augsburg religion guru] Marty Stortz. As a part of her sermon, she included an invitation to live some of the deep questions of the faith. She outlined the first five questions that God asks in the Bible as questions that we should use for reflection and a kind of personal Bible study now that we’re out of seminary. So for the next week or so, I’ll be reflecting on the first 5 questions God asks in the Bible. Here they are.

Question #1 — Where Are You? (reflection on Friday, the 15th)

Question #2 — Who Told You? (reflection on Monday, the 18th)

Question #3 — What Have You Done? (reflection on Wednesday, the 20th)

Question #4 — Why Are You Angry? (reflection on Friday, the 22nd)

Question #5 — Where Is Your Brother? (reflection on Monday, the 25th)

I think there is a lot to be gained from exploring some of these questions, not only for us as Christians, but for us as people as well. They’re questions that reach to the foundation of who we are. So, at least for the next week, I’m going to live these questions and spend some time in reflection on here.

You’re welcome to join me in reflecting on these questions and sharing this journey with me. I look forward to our exploration.


A New Way to Think About Vocation

Recently I’ve been watching quite a few of the videos from The Work of the People. They’re a wonderful community of artists, storytellers, people of faith who gather from all corners of the religious spectrum to share stories and communicate in very meaningful ways. You should definitely check them out when you get a chance. But there was one in particular that really stuck out to me.

Miroslav Volf always seems to have some good bits of wisdom or some interesting questions to reflect on. In the video that I found, he answers a critical question that I think we, as people of faith, must answer if we are still going to matter to future generations. That question is, “What breaks your heart?”


I think we could look at this question as a new and different way of defining vocation. Theologian Frederick Buechner said that vocation is where “your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” It’s not a bad definition. But what if we spoke of vocation by asking “What breaks your heart?” And then the ever-important follow up — “What can you do about it?”

So what breaks my heart? The idea that people can be treated as less-than-human, second or third class citizens, because of how they were born. It absolutely breaks my heart. Sickens me beyond all belief. Things like sex-trafficking, acts of racism, sexism, classism, and all the other “isms” out there are so far gone from how we ought to be treating each other that it absolutely breaks my heart. I can’t believe that some people have the opinion that it is their God-given entitlement to have more than everyone else. It sickens me.

So what can I do about it? Well. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. As of right now…

  • I’m a pastor in a church and seeking to lead a community in ways that try to identify injustice and disservice in our communities (and in Arizona, there are a lot), and then try to do what I/we can to right them.
  • I’ve been getting involved with Christians for Biblical Equality. They’re a great organization and there are many others out there that are doing some great things.
  • I’m reading all I can about peacemaking, justice, and things along those lines.
  • I’m always looking for more ways to be involved with people and organizations who are doing good things like this.

I always feel like my job will be addressing these kinds of inequalities and injustices wherever that is or whatever it looks like. I doubt it will always look like a pastor in a parish. Right now it does, but it might not always look like that.

So what breaks your heart? What kinds of stories infuriate you? What are you passionate about?

and the always-essential follow-up…

What are you doing about it? What can you do about it?

Leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you all are doing to make the world a better place. I know some of you who are doing some great work. What breaks your heart? Drop by and leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your passions.


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