Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Small churches staying small

A friend of mine on Facebook posted an article on why small churches stay small. "10 Reasons Why Small Churches Stay Small"  I've pastored a small church that really didn't want to grow.  Like the article says, the members never said it aloud but their actions sure did.  Many were resistant to new ideas.  They were extremely concerned about money.  And it was an unhealthy church.

This article articulates the reasons churches stay small.  I like it because it addresses problems that exist.  Far too many people ignore such problems or are in denial about them.

One of the people who commented on the article said that he wanted to give it to the elders of his church.  I think senior church leaders (i.e. district superintendents, bishops, overseers, etc.) should also read it.  Then perhaps there would be better understanding of what some pastors are up against.

This article was helpful to me.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Identifying good recruiters from not so good ones

Please click on picture for attribution information
Friday's post was about two types of recruiters and how they work.  Today's post is how to distinguish good recruiters from bad ones.  This is another article from Brad Remillard of Impact Hiring Solutions.  I hope its helpful. 

"What's the difference between "good to great" recruiters and bad recruiters?"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Which type is your recruiter?

So... you've found a recruiter and sent in your resume.  You're sure you'll get an interview.  You're qualified for the job.  Anyday now the phone will ring.  Anyday now.  Anyday....

So what's going on?  Why does it seem like the recruiter has dropped of the face of the earth?  Perhaps it has something to do with type of recruiter you're working with.  Didn't know there were different types?  Well there are.  Two types in fact.

Brad Remillard of Impact Hiring Solutions explains that there are contingent and retained recruiters.  What's the difference?  How does that affect you as a jobseeker?  Click on the link and be informed.  I sure was.  "Two Types Of Recruiters - Retained and Contingent"

Enjoy the weekend.  See you Monday.

Note:  click on photo for attribution information.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Follow-up to "Fit for leadership?"

For the next two weeks I'll be working on a writing project.  I'll be posting links to articles and blogs I find interesting.  I'll also write a short blurb on why they interested me.

It seems my last post "Fit for leadership?" generated a lot of discussion in some of my Linkedin groups.  Then one of my fellow group members, Mr. Guy Farmer, posted an article titled "Your Impact as a Leader".  The gist of the article is that the kind of leader you are impacts morale, productivity, and corporate culture.  So friends, read the article and tell me what you think.  Thank-you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fit for leadership?

Happy Father's Day to all the dads.  :)

"When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."  Luke 12:48 NLT

A few days ago, I over heard a debate on television as to whether Rep. Anthony Weiner should have resigned.  The argument against his resignation was that his personal life had nothing to do with how he did his job.  This is not the first time I've heard this argument.  The thinking seems to be that one's personal life and professional life are separate, and that it is possible to function like they are.

I'm not sure that's the case.  The apostle Paul didn't think so.  When describing what characteristics to look for in church leaders he says that their lives should be blameless  (Titus 1:7).  In other words a leader's lifestyle should inspire respect.  A church leader should be well thought of in his/her community.  The bible does not make the requirement of a moral life for religious leaders only.  Whoever was made king was also to live a life above reproach.

I'm not trying to be preachy or to condemn Weiner, but how he has behaved in his personal life has caused me to question how he handled his responsibilities as a Congressman.

First let's consider his response when the news of his tweets broke.  He lied, and continued to lie for a week.  Was he honest in his dealings as a Congressman?  Is he trustworthy?

Then let's consider what he tweeted.  Has he not been paying attention?  The Internet and the media are full of stories of people whose careers have been damaged or ended because of what they tweeted or posted.  Consider Gilbert Gottfried. He was fired as the voice of the AFLAC Duck because of inappropriate tweets about Japan after the earthquake.  Did he think about his colleague, Christopher Lee who resigned in light of shirtless postings on Craigslist?  Did Weiner think he was safe?  That such a thing would not happen to him?

Thirdly, Weiner is a married man.  This scandal shows that he has not been faithful to his wife.  He has not been faithful to his marriage vows.  At the beginning of each new congress, the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are sworn into office. (click here for ref.)  Was Weiner able to keep his oath?

Finally, Weiner's actions show a lack of concern for his wife.  Bad enough to have to deal with his infidelity but to do so publicly...  And she is pregnant with his child.  Did Weiner care for his constituents or was he just as unconcerned about them?

I believe that how you live your personal life is a reflection of your values, beliefs, and character.  You bring yourself wherever you go so your values, beliefs, and character are going to affect your professional life.  I have to say that the personal life and the professional life really can't be separated.  This is especially true if you are a leader.  I don't believe the bible requires leaders to be perfect.  But I think leaders are required to be mature people with good character.  This goes for civic leaders as well as church leaders.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Choices: Or how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader

"...choose this day whom you will serve..." Joshua 24:15b

I'm a big fan of Star Wars.  I've seen all six episodes.  I've seen Episode IV (the original Star Wars movie) about three or four times.  I have a confession though.  My favorite character is Darth Vader.

Darth Vader is a classic villain.  He has such a presence when he strides across the screen.  The choice of James Earl Jones to be his voice is excellent.  And then there's the theme music.  Darth Vader is quite the villain

But Darth Vader didn't start out that way.  When we first meet him he is a kind and generous nine year old boy named Anakin Skywalker.  He lived with his mother on a far off desert planet.  Both of them were slaves. 

Anakin was a gifted little boy.  He had a knack for fixing any type of machinery.  He was the only human who could fly the racing pod.  Last but not least, the Force was strong with him.  By the end of Episode I Anakin was a padawan, a child in training to become a Jedi.

Episode II is where we begin to see the progression towards Darth Vader.  Anakin was very attached to his mother.  He was sad about leaving her.  He began having bad dreams about her which tormented him.  Finally he decided to go to his home planet and look for her.  In doing so he disobeyed an order.  He was to stay where he was and protect Princess Amidala.  Anakin found his mother.  She had been taken by raiders and beaten very badly.  She died in his arms.  Anakin in his grief used his Jedi powers to destroy the whole village.  He killed men, women, and children.  That was his first step towards the Dark Side.

The end of Episode II finds Anakin secretly married to Padme (Princess Amidala).  Jedi aren't supposed to have such attachments.  Attachments can make Jedi vulnerable to manipulation and undue influence.  So this was Anakin's second step towards the Dark Side.

The next step came in Episode III.  Anakin and Obi Wan are attempting to rescue Senator Palpatine from kidnappers.  During the struggle Anakin has a duel with Count Dooku.  Anakin defeats Dooku, having cut off both his hands.  But on Palpatine's order he kills Dooku.  This goes against the Jedi code.  Jedi do not kill someone who is defenseless.

In the course of the movie we find out that Padme is pregnant.  Anakin begins to have troubling dreams about Padme dying in childbirth.  By this time he has become somewhat close to Senator Palpatine.  During a concert, Palpatine tells a story about an apprentice Jedi  who killed his master. The master had discovered the secret of immortality.  The Jedi wanted the secret for himself.  At that moment Anakin realizes that Palpatine is a Sith.  He was the apprentice who killed his master. 

Anakin's transformation comes when the Jedi try to arrest Palpatine.  Palpatine promises Anakin that he can save Padme's life.  So Anakin pledges his allegiance to Palpatine and is renamed Darth Vader.  His first act as Vader is to go to the Jedi temple and destroy it.  Anakin kills everyone; men, women, and the padawans; the children.  Now, Anakin is definitely on the Dark Side.

As I said at the beginning, Darth Vader didn't start out as Darth Vader.  It was through a series of decisions; choices that put Anakin on the path to the Dark Side. 

I believe that our choices have a great impact on who we become.  At school we have the choice to hang with the kids that cut school or hang with kids who want to get an education.  At work we can associate with the people who are always complaining or associate with the ones who are positive.  Of course there things that come up that we have no control over.  We have no control over whether a hurricane will flood a city.  We have no control whether a tornado will tear up a neighborhood.  But we do have a choice as how we will respond to these events. 

Who we are is a reflection of our choices.  I pray we all make wise ones.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Resume part of blog site updated

Per the recommendations of the recruiter I talked with last week, I have updated the resume portions.  Your feedback is appreciated.  Thanks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Working with staffing agencies

Picture from
Long term unemployment sometimes equals the need for a "survival" job.  A survival job is one that pays the bills while you look for the job you really want.  Many times such jobs don't use all the skills that you have.  They're not dream jobs.  But its honest work that will keep you going.

Staffing agencies sometimes provide survival jobs.  I've signed up with a couple of staffing agencies.  I've had a couple of assignments as a receptionist.  The last time I worked as a receptionist  I was in college.  That was my summer job.  For me being a receptionist is a survival job but it is honest work.  I was happy to get it.

Here is a link to an article about working with staffing agencies. (The truth about temporary staffing services) I'm following the author's (Nicole King) suggestions; particularly the one about taking short term assignments.  I think you'll find the information helpful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do job searchers need a vision?

And the LORD answered me:
“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
Hababkkuk 2:2

Well...yes.  Job searchers need to have a goal, a plan, something that inspires them.  A vision is what will enable you to keep going during difficult times.  It will also give some direction to your job searching.

A vision should be something that you can articulate when asked.  A few weeks ago I was at a networking event.  Someone asked me where I wanted to be in five years.  I thought I had the answer to that question until I was pressed for more details.  To my dismay I couldn't give any.  So I've been working on my vision since then.  I've been so caught up in short term survival that I've forgotten about long term goals.

My next Examiner article is going to be about job searching and career vision.  I plan to publish it tomorrow.  Until then, here's something to think about:  What is your career vision?  Where do you want to be in five years?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lessons in job hunting

Photo from
Like many people my job search has not been going as well as I liked.  But yesterday I was blessed to meet with a recruiter at an employment agency.  She gave me some honest feedback about the state of the job market and what I needed to do to be competitive.  Here's what I learned.

1.  The job market in the Washington, DC metropolitan area is good  compared to the rest of the country but very competitive.

2.  There's a sense of uncertainty among employers.  They're concerned about national and local leadership and how that will affect the economy.  So they're taking "baby steps" when it comes to increasing staff.

3.  Potential employers Do Not like functional resumes or hybrid resumes.  I've been using a chrono-functional resume.  Maybe that's why I've had such a poor response.

4.  Potential employers are being very picky when it comes to appearance.  They want a polished, conservative look.  I recently dyed my hair burgundy.  I liked the way it looked  I didn't think it was too far out but apparently it is in this market.  I now have to dye my hair again to a more natural color.

I'm curious.  What are other recruiters seeing?  Your comments are welcome.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Firefly and visions

I recently become a fan of the Firefly television series.  Firefly is described by its creator, Joss Whedon as a space western.  One particular episode, "Heart of Gold"  really captures the western feel.

The episode takes place on a moon which has not been fully terra-formed (made to look like Earth).  So the landscape is the hard-scrabble, dry, desert, type that you see in many traditional westerns.  There's a ruthless land baron trying to drive out a small enterprise.  In this case its a whore house (I'm not dealing with the morality here).  The highpoint of the story is a shootout worthy of any western.  The whore house prevails and metes out some frontier justice.

Firefly first aired on one of the network broadcast stations.  Based on what I've read, the network executives never caught Whedon's vision.  The show was canceled after 14 or 15 episodes.

The Firefly series has grown in popularity since then.  It has aired on a cable channel and DVD sales are quite strong.  There is a movement by fans to bring the show back.  The reason given for the show's cancellation was lack of viewers and profitability.  I wonder what would have happened if the network executives let it stay on long enough to build a following?

I almost killed a vision.  I had some parishioners who wanted to start a food pantry and clothes closet ministry.  Initially I was resistant.  I was concerned about getting the approval of the church council,  getting money in the budget for it, how our insurance would be affected, blah, blah, blah.  I found all sorts of bureaucratic reasons to kill the ministry before it even got started.  Then I went to a conference for church leaders.  The presenter said that leaders should give their parishioners permission to do ministry.  We shouldn't bog them down with red tape.

Thanks be to God I listened.  The ministry was formed.  It was that ministry that became a 501(c)3 non-profit.  I almost deprived the community, the church, and myself of something that proved to be very beneficial.

I wonder how many visions I did kill?  I wonder how many useful products, services, and ideas have been lost because someone killed another's vision?  God save me from killing anymore.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New Direction

This is the last part of my bio.  If you haven't read the whole thing yet you can click on the "About Me" tab.  My next post will be on Monday, June 6.  Have a great weekend.

(Photo courtesy of Stockvault)

Sometimes in life there are situations where no matter how much work and effort you put in them the situation just doesn't turn out well. The last church was in decline. I and some of the members of the congregation attempted to redevelop the church. We were unsuccessful and the church closed in December of 2009. Since that time I have left the United Methodist Church. I am now seeking full time in a faith-based non-profit that provides social or educational services. I would like the non-profit to have the goal of moving the clients to self sufficiency.

Frankly, the closing of a church is a painful experience. Even though I did not achieve the results I wanted much good came out of the situation. While at Pikesville, I and some of the parishioners formed a family outreach ministry. The ministry eventually became a 501(c)3 organization. Through this non-profit we provided food, clothing, opportunities for fellowship, and referrals to needy families.
Again, to my surprise I found that I really enjoyed the work. The clients were well treated and welcomed into the church. This resulted in some of them gaining stability in their lives and self-sufficiency. That's the kind of work I want to do. Work that improves people's lives and helps them be productive members of society.
While I've been looking for full time work I have been volunteering and working short-term, temporary jobs to gain new experience and skills. I am the Facebook fanpage administrator for Columbia Bands of Columbia, MD. I write for on issues of job searching and unemployment. I recently starting working with the Empowering Minds Foundation which provides educational enrichment and tutoring services.

Friday, June 3, 2011

U-Turn (Part 2 of my bio)

I was an IT professional for a goodly amount of time and did quite well. I advanced from being a computer programmer to a database programmer, then to a database analyst, then systems analyst. I finally reached the level of senior systems analyst and team leader for systems development projects.

While I was working my IT career God was steadily calling me to ministry. You may wonder what a call from God sounds like. In my case I heard it through other people. For example, I was giving a presentation at a university. After the presentation was finished one of the audience members came and asked me if I was a minister. She said something something about my manner and bearing made her think that I was. I other cases I would go into churches that I had never been and people would think that I was a minister. In one church I was even asked to give a greeting. Still in other cases I would be shopping in a grocery store and elderly people who I never met would ask me for assistance. There were other people around but they would pick me out. Finally, I often experienced people who I'd never met compelled to give me their life stories.
I tried to ignore God's call. I tried to dismiss these incidents but God is very persistent. So I enrolled in Wesley Theological Seminary and began work on a Master of Divinity degree. I graduated from Wesley and began the next phase of my professional life; that of a United Methodist pastor. My last pastorate was with a small, multicultural, congregation in Pikesville, MD.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Shortcuts

Well,  I've finished the remodel of my blog/online resume.  That's the first change I made.  I'm no longer calling it a website.  When I first put this up I sent an email to my friends and colleagues asking for their input.  Be careful what you ask for.  My cousin said it wasn't "webby" and that it wasn't engaging.  But she also gave me some constructive ideas to improve my site.

I realized I was trying to take a shortcut.  Instead of developing an actual website I was trying to turn a blog site into one.  Admitting this also meant admitting that I don't have the time and all the technical skills necessary to build a good website.  So I've jazzed up this blog a little and left it as a blog.

My next few posts are the story of my career progression.  You can go to the "About Me" page to read the whole thing.  If you just want to read the first part right now, click on this link (The Beginning) or just keep scrolling and enjoy.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in English, I began my professional life with a small consulting firm in the Washington, DC area. My job was a data analyst. I reviewed different types of documents such as grant proposals, government funding applications, progress reports, etc. for completeness and accuracy of data. If data was missing, or if there were any questions about the documents I made contact with the senders for clarification. I also did some data entry.

The job was alright but after a few months I began to feel restless. I did not think there were a lot of opportunities for advancement. So I enrolled in a local community college and took some computer programming courses. To my surprise I was quite good at programming and had an aptitude for it. The company I was working for won some new projects which had openings for computer programmers. I applied for one of the positions and got it. Thus I began my career in IT.