• Connection is Key: Developing the Whole Student
    communication,  education,  faith

    Connection is Key:
    Developing the Whole Student

    In previous posts, we talked about how competence without character is dangerous, and character without competence is ineffective. Competence and character grow together. But in preparing the whole person for real life, there’s a third necessary area of development: connection. I’ve spent a lot of time coaching communicators. Often communication skills like public speaking are refined in competition — which is the fastest way up the learning curve. In these settings, competence and character are readily evident. And so is connection. Here’s a story of what happens when we don’t add in that third element of connection: Nathaniel was standing in front of me, ballots in hand. “These judges are…

  • All I Want is Character
    communication,  education,  faith

    All I Want is Character:
    Developing the Whole Student

    I had just finished speaking to a group of parent educators when a mom approached me. “I don’t think it really matters whether my children master any of their academics. My son isn’t very academically inclined. I’m mostly just interested in his character.” “How will you help them grow in character?” I asked, genuinely interested. “Well, uh, I’ll teach my son to be nice to his sister.” “Good start,” I replied. “What other character traits would you like to see him demonstrate as he grows up?” She thought a minute. “Well, perseverance…and follow through…and respect.” We continued talking. She began to see that every character trait that mattered to her…

  • The Dangers of Competence without Character
    communication,  education,  faith

    The Dangers of Competence without Character: Developing the Whole Student

    “You’re wrong. My daughter could never do something that dishonest. Have you seen her?” Malinda sat across from me in the small university room adjacent to tournament headquarters. Her voice shrieked and quavered. “Sylvia’s one of the most competent young ladies her age.” Sylvia’s competence was not in question. She had been disqualified by tournament officials for plagiarizing evidence in her national championship debate round. Sylvia denied it. Her teammate Missy was horrified — she had no idea what had happened. Still, the consequence was the same for both of them. The guilty and the innocent. Both extremely competent. Both disqualified and embarrassed. Both shedding lots of tears. They left…

  • What Story Will They Tell?
    communication,  education

    What Story Will They Tell?

    Originally published in Outcomes Magazine by the Christian Leadership Alliance. “Our board would like you to come fix our Millennials.” The administrator of a small nonprofit was on the phone explaining that her organization established a “junior board of Millennials” as part of their succession plan. The Board of Directors, composed of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists, wanted these Millennials “fixed” to embrace the organization’s mission and operational strategy their way. The catch: board members didn’t want to invest their own time or resources in the fix. You can guess what happened. Every invested Millennial volunteer left that organization – and they left with a story. What story do your team members…

  • Hope in the Wilderness: Guest Post by Cassandra Shepherd
    faith

    Hope in the Wilderness:
    Guest Post by Cassandra Shepherd

    Guest Post by Cassandra Shepherd     It’s not often all of our plans are so thoroughly thwarted, our freedom so collectively restrained, our daily life so completely disrupted on a global scale… We are in a communal time of massive transition because of the pandemic. Nothing in the world is ‘normal’ anymore. People’s daily routines have had to change. There is a level of unprecedented anxiety on a global scale, and so much that seemed predictable is now very uncertain. There is so much that is painful, and there is a profound sense of loss. It has been more than 5 weeks since we last saw my husband Richard:…

  • How Should Christians Behave During a Pandemic?
    faith,  leadership

    How Should Christians Behave During a Pandemic?

    In a time of global unrest and uncertainty, Christians everywhere are seeking wisdom on how to respond to a pandemic. We know there’s trouble in this world. As a community of Jesus-followers, we have this unique opportunity to model how we can be joyful in the face of such trying times. John writes it this way: be of good cheer. Why? Because we know the One who overcomes even the worst crises in this world (John 16:33). Hard times are to be expected. But how should we, as Christians, respond to mass sickness and uncertainty? In the 16th century, Protestant church father Martin Luther gave this answer on how he…

  • Flooded with Fear; Faith for the Future
    education,  faith

    Flooded with Fear; Faith for the Future

    “You’ve successfully navigated 100% of your worst days.” Those words from a mentor struck a chord with me. I have. I’m still here. So what are those days? When I think of my worst days, one of the first events that springs to mind is back in 2010. Tennessee experienced what has been called the 500-year flood. During the torrential rains and subsequent flooding, my family lost 30% of our property – which serves both as our family’s home and a training center for leadership residencies in the nonprofit I founded, the Institute for Cultural Communicators. As the water levels continued to rise, our home began filling with standing water.…

  • A Cultural Christmas Letter
    communication

    A Cultural Christmas Letter

    Merry Christmas and “God Jul!” I pray that you and yours are experiencing the joy of this season with snuggly clothes, good foods, and heart-warming friend and family traditions. As I’m writing this, I’ve been spending the morning rolling our family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner – Swedish meatballs! I love sharing the Christmas traditions of my Swedish family with my household: recipes like potatis korv and persimmon pudding from “the old country,” exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve (after dinner is cleaned up, of course), and 11pm services featuring Swedish prayers and carols at Grandma’s Swedish Lutheran church. As the Institute for Cultural Communicators celebrates more and more cultural communication by…