Monthly Archives: July 2009

Praise God Always

“17 Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will exult in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18; NRSV

These words were a blessing for me as I grieved the lost of my brother, Kenneth, who died over 28 years ago. And I come to these verses often when I need to grieve, when I am having a difficult time or when I just want to feel sorry for myself.

When we rejoice and give God the praise and thank Him during our difficult times; my sense is, that’s when God hears our prayers all the more. Why, because He knows that we have faith in Him and that we will trust Him to help us get through our hard times.

I recently became re-acquainted with a friend of mine who is going through a challenging time. Her challenge will change her future forever. However, she is using this time to reconnect with friends and in the process, praising and thanking God. She embodies the verses above and those written by Paul below. Here are Paul’s words:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God….8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:4-6; 8-9; NRSV

  • Think about a time when you stop to thank and praise God? Was it during a good time in your life or when you were confronted with challenges?
  • What were the outcomes of you praising God?
  • What advice can you give others about praising and thanking God during challenging times; or praising him regardless of the circumstances?
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Principled Leadership

Last week I attended several workshops at the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s (USPRA) 34th Annual Training Conference held in Norfolk, Virginia. The workshop I am sharing with you today was entitled: “Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems and Programs.” It is based on William A. Anthony and Kevin Ann Anthony’s book with the same title which can be purchased online at

Our workshop facilitators reviewed 8 leadership principles as follows:

1. Leaders communicate/create a shared vision.

· The organizational leader needs to continually assess the agency’s mission and vision. The leader needs to share what is happening in the larger world and then put this in context to its own organization. The leader also needs to use every communication vehicle available to express the organization’s vision and mission to staff and those the organization serves.

2. Leaders centralize around a mission but decentralize operations.

· The mission of the organization should be visible for all to see. It should be on business cards, visible within the organization’s buildings, especially in the board room. The mission dictates how the organization should operate; therefore, a principled leader doesn’t micro-mange. It’s a waste of time and staff can’t develop the skills they need to run the organization. The leader uses the mission to empower others. It’s the leader’s job to spread the word around in the greater community about the mission of the organization and raising funds to sustain the organization.

3. Leaders live by key values.

· Leaders need to be the keepers of the values (i.e. recovery values and assures that the mental health recovery values are being practiced in the organization). Staff’s performance evaluations are based on the organization’s values.

4. Leaders empower their staff

· An empower organization is clear who has authority and who makes decisions. Best decisions are made where the services are delivered. Use values to make decisions; this reinforces the values. The leader becomes a consultant within this context.

5. Leaders assure that staff are trained to do their job well.

· Leaders ensure that that staff are trained in a human technology that can translate a vision into reality. Training is important and the leader needs to assure that the organization is a learning community. Training can come through daily supervision, during staff meetings, peer reviews and of course through various workshops internal and external to the organization.

6. Leaders relate constructively to employees.

· A principled leader will always focus on the positive and the strengths of the organization’s employees.

7. Leaders use information to make change

· Change is constant. What should we start doing? What should we stop doing; what should be continued. Leaders receive feedback from staff, consumers, advisory bodies and other stakeholders. Then the leader, as part of the team, will use the continuous quality improvement process: decide, collect, analyze, implement, monitor, and decide.

8. Leaders recognize and reward great “performers.”

· Principled leaders always find a way to recognize great performers; it’s best to recognize great performers publicly.

Slides from this workshop can be viewed by going to the USPRA’s website at

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Our Work Never Ceases

God, I am thinking about “retirement.” I am ready to hear “well done my son.” But what I sense from you is my job is not done. I have more to do.

What might that be Lord? What are the costs, the sacrifices? God I am not sure I am ready for more work and sacrifice. I want to rest. I am tired. Okay, if I need to go on; here’s what I need from you.

Help me to get it right this time. Communicate to me clearly; assure me the voice I hear is yours. I speak not only for me, but for the “all of us” that listen for your voice.

Help us to hear your call. Comfort us as we come to understand that what we do for you will never cease; that we are to labor in the vineyard as long as we are breathing.

So God encourage me daily. Send me reminders often of your love. And if you must, gently discipline me when I falter or resist your will. Show me what you would have me do; for “all of us” to do.

We all have a role to play. Let me and all your children not neglect our job. Give us strong shoulders for those who come after us to stand on as we (each generation) continue transforming the world.

1. Have you ever thought what you might do when you retire?
2. Even in retirement, God preps us for the next venture. What venture might that be for you?

Dear God, help us to stay awake, pay attention and to listen to our hearts and soul as we wait for our new venture to serve you and humankind in a new and exciting way. Amen.

The painting is the work of Jim Whalen

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