Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: leadership

Book Review: Moses

Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press, 2017.

In Moses, Adam Hamilton retraces the footsteps of Moses, whom Hamilton argues is the “single most influential person in the Hebrew Bible.” While he blends historical facts and reflections on visiting sites, Hamilton steadies the course that there is much to learn from this reluctant prophet.

Moses is equal parts history, theology, and commentary. Taking a serious look at Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the reader is invited to consider what he or she can learn from the Moses narrative. I am careful here because it is not just Moses’ life that offers implications for our own. It is the also the people around him.

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Comic Review: Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists

Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists collects issues #1-6 and is written by Steve Orlando. Art is by Ivan Reis

The Story (aka From the Publisher)

It’s a Justice League vs. Suicide Squad spin off. From the wreckage of the deadly clash of the world’s greatest–and the world’s worst–heroes comes a brand new Justice League of America made up of some of the most unlikely heroes to ever join the League!

Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis bring together the Ray, the Atom, Vixen, Killer Frost and more in what is one of the most offbeat and compelling lineup the Justice League of America has ever seen. Featuring epic battles and personal struggles, this is a League like the the world has never seen before!

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YouTubevotional: Election Day

ballot-box-bunny-bigger-stickThis is the first of what I hope will be a weekly occurrence. YouTubevotionals are for personal devotional time, or for use in a small group, youth group, or a Sunday school class. -JCS


It has been a long – long –  election season. It will soon be over, as citizens head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes. The 1951 Looney Tunes cartoon Ballot Box Bunny is eerily similar to this election season. The cartoon may help us explore the impact of the election season and think about leadership.

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Young Leaders in the Church(*)

“Be the change you wanna see!” the Newsboys rocked out at a Christian Rock Festival one summer.  The church youth groups were spread out through the stadium seating around the green lawn, and yelled and cheered with excitement.  This is how they felt.  This band understood how they think about the church.  Their energy was around being the change, not talking about the change.

Of course, Newsboys wasn’t the first to say we should “be the change.”  Gandhi is most often quoted saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  And we’ve done with that what we do with most quotes we think are truly awesome: we plaster it everywhere imaginable.  Bumper stickers: check.  T-shirts: check.  Mugs: check.  Magnets: check.

But are we really being the change?

One of the greatest complaints that young people have about the church is that the church does not walk its talk.  The church, through the eyes of many young people, is not faithfully being the change.  The reality is that the church is situated on prime real estate for not just being the change, but for nurturing young people to be leaders of change in the world.

Nurturing young people to be leaders of change involves empowering them to be themselves. Whether is it adolescents or college students, they are on a journey of self-discovery developmentally.  They are doing the same spiritually, and the church needs to be a safe place for them to be who they are, when they are, because they are.  This means that we in the church need to receive each young person with open hearts and open minds.  We need to accept them for who they are.  We need to look pass the flip-flops in church, holey jeans, and random pop culture t-shirts, and hear their voices.

By hearing their voices, I mean listening deeply to what young people have to say, because they have a lot to say about a lot of things they see around them.  Dori Baker and Joyce Ann Mercer remind us in their book Lives to Offer that “young people today are concerned about the deep wounds of the world” (page 25).  Young people have insights and opinions that are worth listening to and worth taking the risk of putting these opinions into action.  It means being flexible with our own ideas, giving up some of the decision-making that we in the church tend to hold on to, and giving it over to the young people.

There is a saying that the young people are the church of tomorrow.  Friends, young people are the church of right now.  Leadership development of young people is not for the church to exist in the future.  Rather, developing young leaders is a partnership for the church today; a partnership that nurtures change in the world. The church learns just as much from young people as young people learn from the church.  This kind of partnership opens the door for intentional intergenerational opportunities, where mentoring happens.

About fifteen years ago, while working in children’s ministry, the third to fifth graders were pen pals with older adults in the congregation.  One of the third grade boys and one of the older men formed a close mentoring relationship that resulted in them working together in leading others in the children’s ministry to plant a community garden.  The harvest from that small garden was used to make a difference to the hungry families in the community.  This act of mission succeeded all because a third grader saw a need.

A high school student returned from a mission trip to Central America with a heavy heart as she remembered the children she had met who had so little to eat.  As she transitioned back into normal high school life of school, dance practices, exams, and lunch tables, she could not shake the image of children sitting alone in dusty shacks waiting for a few pieces of rice and bread at the end of the day.  She pulled a number of people from the mission trip together and she spear-headed a project called Feed Diques.  Now over fifty children get at least one hot, nurtritious meal a week because this high schooler saw a need.

Why is this kind of partnership so important to the church?  Because the way in which young people vision the church is a new and hopeful vision compared to the way we have always done church.

(*) Originally published in the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, June 2013 issue.

Kon Ducki (1992)

plucky duck oneThis Tiny Toon Adventures short pairs Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig together as Plucky stars as Captain Pluck who vows to prove to the Explorer’s Club that when his ancestors migrated to Salinas, they did not fly, but sailed. He and his side-kick Koom-Bye-Ya, which is portrayed as Hamton J. Pig. And for comic relief, there is Sweetie Bird. Just as the original Looney Tunes shorts were often parodies of movies, Kon Ducki is a parody of the 1950 film Kon Tiki.

Captain Pluck and his small crew carry with them everything that his ancestors would have taken when migrating in 1977, complete with hamburger helper and cheese wiz. When things on the voyage get a little too shaking, in a classic Daffy Duck move, Plucky no longer wants to be the leader. He instead allows Hamton to be the leader. This way, if something goes wrong, it is Hamton’s fault, not Plucky’s. Instead, Hamton makes good decisions and realizes that he is good at being a leader. Plucky grabs his hat back from Hamton, the symbol of leadership, and resumes commands.

Plucky’s style of leadership tends to be consumed with opening a bottle of mango juice while the others do all the work. Hamton is more of a servant, doing what no one else is willing to do. When Hamton is given the chance to lead, he does so without cracking under the pressure, makes solid decisions, and in this short, even gains a profit.

duck dodgersWhat is great about this short is that Tiny Toon writers Sherri Stoner, Peter Hastings, and Stephen Hibbert capture the essence of Chuck Jones‘ Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Jones wrote in his book Chuck Amuck, “Daffy Duck is simply trying to get ahead; Porky in his adult life is simply a bemused spectator of the human scene.”  This was true in the endless shorts that the two characters were paired in, especially Jones’ Robin Hood Daffy, and Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century. Plucky and Hamton do the same here in this short. Plucky trying to prove himself as an explorer, and Hamton grateful for the life experience.

Chuck Jones has said that “Within all of us dwells a Daffy Duck.” And a Plucky Duck, and a Hamton J. Pig.  Which are you? Are you Plucky striving to get ahead and make a name for yourself? Or are you Hamton making the best of each moment and willingly serving others?


On Becoming a Leader

Your task is not to become a leader. Your task is to become yourself,  and to use yourself completely – all your gifts and skills and energies – to make your vision manifest. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be and enjoy the process of becoming. (Warren Bennis)

Random Quote

Dr. Cornel West on leadership:

“You can’t lead folk without loving folk.  You can’t save without serving.”

© 2018 Jason C. Stanley

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