LF Blog and News - Leadership Foundations

In case you missed this week’s Town Hall

Thanks to all who joined the August 5th Town Hall. Be sure to look out for weekly invitations to upcoming Town Hall meetings. You can register now here for next week’s Town Hall on August 12. As always, feel free to share with your network.

We have included the Town Hall recording below as well as each of the previous weekly Town Halls.

August 5 Town Hall featuring:

– Urban ministry legend Ray Bakke

-Johnny Hughes from Indian Ministries Leadership Foundations


July 29 Town Hall featuring:

-Dan Cardinali on “Trust In Civil Society”

-Ben Sand from The Contingent in Portland, OR

July 22 Town Hall featuring:

-Pastor Tyrone Stevenson, Senior Pastor at Hope City Church in Brooklyn, NY

-Sam Rajshekhar, Director of the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation in Bangalore, India 

July 15 Town Hall featuring:

Rev. Adam Taylor, Executive Director of  Sojourners

-Bobby Arias and Blinky Rodriguez from Champions In Services of San Fernando Valley and Greater Los Angeles on the work they are doing for their city

July 8 Town Hall:

-Pancho Argüelles, Executive Director of  Living Hope Wheelchair Association shared his work and thoughts on community and intentional solidarity.

-Joel Furrow from leads The Root Cellar, Leadership Foundation of Lewiston joined us from Maine to talk about the great work they are doing to meet the needs of their city.

July 24 Town Hall featuring:

-Dave Hillis and Cornelius Williams in conversation about authentic community

-Stephanie Summers, CEO of The Center for Public Justice.

-Wil McCall, President of Dallas Leadership Foundation

-Eric Geary sharing updated data about the activation of our network to respond to the needs of their cities

June 17 Town Hall featuring:

-Anne Snyder , Editor in Chief of Comment Magazine in conversation with co-hosts Cornelius Williams and Dave Hillis

-De la Harpe le Roux from Towers of Hope Leadership Foundation on the work they are doing in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

June 10 Town Hall featuring:

-Tod Bolsinger from Fuller Theological Seminary on resilient leadership during crisis

-Torrey Bates, Executive Director of For The Kingdom Camp out of Memphis Leadership Foundation on the work he and his team have done to serve 1,000 meals per week.

Resources Shared:

-Tod’s E-Book: Leadership For A Time Of Pandemic

-Leadership Foundations blog post by Dave Hillis: What Can We Do Together?

-Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation Statement: What We Have In Common

Independent Sector: PPP Reform Bill details​

Whitworth Ministry Summit

June 3 Town Hall featuring:

-Ambassador Tony Hall on hunger and food justice

-Mario Matos sharing the work Singergia Leadership Foundaiton is doing in Santo Domingo

-David Hawn of Urban Ventures with an update from Minneapolis

May 27 Town Hall featuring:

-Maria Orozco from The Bridgespan Group diving into strategies and tactics to help with nonprofit scenario planning efforts

-Lee Kricher from Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation sharing the work they are doing to feed the vulnerable.

-Cornelius William from Resurgence: The Leadership Foundation of Atlanta shared an appreciation for partner Whitworth University on behalf of the LF network.

Click here to view the recording. Make sure to check out “Making Sense of Uncertainty: Nonprofit Scenario Planning in the COVID-19 Pandemic” from Bridgespan and the Scenario Planning Tool Maria shared.

May 20 Town Hall featuring:

-Jon Eisele from Deloitte LLP on strategic planning

-Chris Martin from Knoxville Leadership Foundation on the incredible work being done in Tennessee.

-Eric Geary with an energizing update on the LF COVID-19 Activation Fund

May 13 Town Hall featuring:

– Dr. William Storrar on leadership during the current normal of the COVID-19 crisis and what he believes is a profound opportunity for leaders to reimagine a post-pandemic future

– Jay Schindler from Miami Valley Leadership Foundation updating us on what is happening in Dayton, OH and how MVLF is responding.

-And an update on the LF COVID-19 Activation Fund and funding opportunity in partnership with Whitworth University

May 6 Town Hall featuring:
– A Funding Opportunity for Local Leadership Foundations in partnership with Whitworth University
– Lisa Lampman and Bianca Singleton updating us on the response from the LF Mentoring network
– Lina Thompson, Senior Pastor at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church

April 29 Town Hall featuring:
– Doug Holladay, Founder & CEO, PathNorth
– Wilna De Beer, Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa
– Leadership Foundations COVID-19 Campaign

April 22 Town Hall featuring:
– Rev. Dr. Terry McGonigal​, Director of the Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University
– Larry Lloyd, Memphis Leadership Foundation
– Leadership Foundations Impact Analysis Results

April 15 Town Hall featuring:
– Noel Castellanos​, Sr Innovation Fellow​, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
– Rudy Carrasco​, Program Director​, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
– Sam Skillern, Salem Leadership Foundation, Salem, OR
– Eric Geary, Lexington Leadership Foundation, Lexington, KY

April 8 Town Hall featuring:
– Dale Irvin, Sr Innovation Fellow​, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
– Lisa Slayton, Sr Innovation Fellow, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
– Randy White​, The Center for Community Transformation, Fresno, CA

April 1 Town Hall featuring:
– Dan Cardinali, President & CEO, Independent Sector
– June Carrington, Beacons of Hope, New York City, NY
– Abhishek Gier, Catalyst Leadership Foundation, Delhi, India
– Nathaniel Price, Transform Scott County, Georgetown, KY


On Immigration, the Pandemic and Where Hope Resides

For many of our local Leadership Foundations, immigration is not simply an abstract issue.  

It is a shared story and first-hand experience etched into the lives and faces of real human beings – women, children, men – those who make the uncertain and often dangerous journey to a new land.  

Cities are Magnets…

They draw diverse peoples in search of safety, opportunity, and more. And yet, with COVID-19, many immigrant and refugee communities have found themselves increasingly isolated, overlooked, and often attacked.

In our most recent City as Playground podcast, Sam Rajshekhar of the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation describes how so many immigrants have experienced deep deprivation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangalore, India. He depicts a particular group of migrants—the Domari people—who have been marginalized for centuries in India and are now facing unprecedented levels of poverty and privation–creating a kind of hellish purgatory. 

Tragically, this story is not an uncommon one—but what I am struck most by in Sam’s description is how the heartbreak that he describes in gut-wrenching detail seems to clearly be a reflection of God’s own heartbreak. 

We Are All Sojourners

Throughout scripture, God reminds the Israelite people to care for the stranger, the sojourner, in an especially attentive way. Why? Because…

wait for it…

they too were once sojourners.

And Jesus doubles down on this message by becoming an immigrant himself–fleeing to Egypt as a tiny baby. And then he calls his followers to become immigrants as well – to leave everything to follow him.


Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.   

Luke 14: 25-27 (NRSV )

Real Hope – Where God’s Heart Resides

This is the source of our sustaining hope at Leadership Foundations in cities throughout the world – that God who incarnated God’s self in the person of Jesus, who became an immigrant and asks us to do the same, is ever present, ever personal, and always possible for those hardest pressed.    

As a supporter of Leadership Foundations, I invite you to continue to hold immigrant peoples throughout the world in your prayers. And know that your support continues to meet the tangible needs of such people.  

In Bangalore, the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation has created a broad coalition of faith-based and secular organizations to meet immigrant needs. And Leadership Foundations, with our unique charism of finding common ground for the common good, is uniquely positioned to meet such needs.  

Please, join us in this work. 

Equity Means Ownership…

Racial Equity and the City as Playground

Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.'”

Nehemiah 2:17

For Juneteenth this year, I was in downtown Atlanta with my church and a group of other churches where we marched for racial justice in our city. While my heart breaks for the many places where justice does not yet exist as a reality for people of my skin tone, my heart is full for the way that we were leading the way in the march for justice.

It was also a great chance for me to reflect on my own leadership journey, what has led me to where I am serving as president for the Resurgence Leadership Foundation, and where we are at this moment in time in Atlanta and in the world.

As a child, I grew up in Louisiana and migrated to Tacoma, Washington—like many black families in the ‘70s, we were looking for opportunity and our parents worked hard to give us the best shot they could. Here I met some remarkable leaders who I had the great privilege to be shaped by– Dave Hillis, as my Young Life leader, John Bratholm as my basketball coach, and Wendell Phillips, the bus driver for Bethesda Baptist Church on the East side who picked me up– someone who introduced me to the power of the Gospel—it was these men that saw something in me and wanted to invest in me.

How powerful it was in my life to be pursued by these people who saw in me what I couldn’t, who saw potential where I didn’t…

In the early ’80s in Tacoma I didn’t see a lot of people like me – especially in leadership. I’m 6’3”, black, male, cisgendered. Few leaders looked like me. But a gift given early on in my leadership journey was ownership—not a lot of black folks were owners of anything in Tacoma in the ‘80s.

I did, however, get to engage with a great black leader, Tom Skinner, and see what it looked like to be a leader, black, and proud. This informed my own my work—as a youth leader, and now as a local Leadership Foundation president.

About Tom Skinner

Hope and Pain, side-by-side

Right now in Atlanta, there’s a lot going on currently, especially in light of the events that have taken place recently with Rayshard Brooks being shot and killed a few weeks ago. It’s really disheartening – how old this stuff is, and how it didn’t need to happen.

But at the same time, there’s so much here that gives me strength—this is the city of Tyler Perry after all. Keisha Lance Bottoms, a black woman, is our remarkably talented mayor. I remember first coming to Atlanta and saying to myself, “there’s people that look like me that run stuff here!”

This is our tension-filled space in a place like Atlanta—so much hope, but so much work still to do.

The Broken Down Fence

The Covid-19 Pandemic is providing a remarkable opportunity for our world. There are no distractions – we have no sports to distract us.

The pandemic has slowed us down so much that we finally have to deal with what’s in front of us. Many who’ve had their eyes closed, have been forced to open them for the first time to things they would rather ignore –the reality of racial inequity. It’s nothing new, but now they see it.

Even the tall fences—both real and imagined—that people have built around their houses and lives, have been broken down – that is a good thing. With the fence gone, now we have to look at one another.

Equity Means Ownership

What Leadership Foundations offers is ownership – At LF we are all owners, not employees – we own our organizations, we encourage ownership throughout our cities, and we voluntarily opt in to a common way of engaging our city through the wheel of change. You don’t have to abdicate your authority or equity to be in leadership.

That’s why I’m so excited that 55% of local Leadership Foundations are led by people of color. That’s compared to the US nonprofit sector having fewer than 20% of its organizations led by people of color. As a Senior Innovation Fellow with LF, I’m excited for the work ahead of us of strengthening this pipeline of leaders of color to lead in cities throughout the world.

Wakanda—when the invisible becomes visible

Where do we find hope right now? The closing scene of Black Panther is an inspiring image of what this looks like:

When the Invisible becomes Visible

Let’s set the scene: T’Challa (Black Panther) and his sister are in Oakland, California, with some young brothers playing ball on a playground. His sister thought they were headed to the ritzy part of the state and were going to Coachella.

“No,” T’Challa says—”here….“…And we own that building, and that one and that one. This will be our first Wakanda International Outreach Center…”

But here’s the kicker – the technology from Wakanda comes down on the court and the boys start running around it.  

It’s that idea of the invisible becoming visible, on the playground—the idea that—at Leadership Foundations we truly believe this—Wakanda has always been there.

At LF, this is what we’re about. We want to make sure that what was invisible shows up and becomes visible in those places that don’t ordinarily see it—in places that deserve it just like everywhere else.

Cornelius Williams, Jr. is the Founder and president of the Resurgence Leadership Foundation, based in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington, attended Lincoln High School, led Young Life urban work in Portland, Oregon, and now leads Resurgence in its work to meet leaders where they are at and build tailored solutions enabling them to make a lasting impact in the communities they serve. Cornelius also serves as a Senior Innovation Fellow for Leadership Foundations’ Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center.

Our city is hurting,

but there’s hope…

A reflection from David Hawn, CEO of the Leadership Foundation of Minneapolis, Urban Ventures.

Dear friends and supporters: What an amazing group of compassionate people you are!

Tuesday, thanks to donations from the Timberwolves/Lynx, Hy-Vee, Matter (a global nonprofit organization based in St. Louis Park), and all of you, we distributed several tons of food and essential items in one burst––much more than I could have ever dreamed possible a mere two weeks ago.

Crisis support has been essential while local markets were closed. This week, however, some small business owners are trying to re-open their shops.  Therefore, our focus must now shift away from flooding our neighborhood with free items, towards spurring small business recovery, stimulating spending by neighborhood families, and reviving the local economy.

If you have not seen it already, I invite you to read this Star Tribune Article that outlines our approach.

To summarize, starting today, Urban Ventures is:

  • Immediately providing a $5,000, no-strings-attached grant to 140 small businesses in close proximity to our campus; this incredible gift is made possible by a generous anonymous donor.  While this won’t eliminate all the needs of these small business owners, it will go a long way toward helping a large number of them quickly get their businesses re-opened.

  • Partnering with small businesses to purchase large blocks of gift cards to their stores that we will then distribute to local families; a nice win-win transaction.  We will discontinue our free food and product distribution center as this program rolls out over the coming weeks.

This strategy provides tangible and immediate assistance to our community. It also allows us an opportunity to deepen longstanding relationships and form new ones. As we deliver this assistance, we are listening closely to the needs of business owners, then matching groups of skilled volunteers to support specific requests on a case-by-case basis. We are also referring owners with more substantial needs to other governmental and private funding sources.

Urban Ventures is leading recovery efforts on Lake Street with a focus on the long-term. Our big goal–to prepare and send every child in our neighborhood to college or some form of postsecondary education–remains unchanged. But right now, Lake Street’s small business owners need us. And by “us” I mean YOU.

I am so grateful for you and all you are giving in this season,

Dave Hawn
President & CEO
Urban Ventures

What Can We Do, Together?

Our hearts break and our souls are wrenched over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We also acknowledge that they join a long list of others, some of whose names we don’t even know, spread throughout the world. The horrific violence that occurred in South Minneapolis at the doorstep of our local Leadership Foundation, Urban Ventures, last week raises the question yet again: What can we do to help?

It is everyone’s responsibility to confront racism, in our own hearts and in the words and actions of others. There is no future flourishing of people and cities apart from this honest encounter with ourselves. However, and at an even deeper level, the answer lies less in what any one person can do alone than what can collectively be done together. To know relationships is to know change. This is the path forward for Leadership Foundations.

This starts with how we approach the issues that lead to social problems. Too often we approach these complex issues with solutions from an outside-in perspective.  Those who are removed, who study the issue, prescribing solutions that, while well meaning, often miss the mark.

The answer, we believe, lies in being in relationship with one another, to committing to people and places for the long haul. The strength of Leadership Foundations is its diverse network of leaders on the ground in over 40 cities, who have been committed to this for the last 40 years and will continue to do so moving forward, in times of crisis and times of calm. Those relationships—this bedrock of social capital—are what have enabled local Leadership Foundations to jump into action and be effective early in the pandemic and during the past week, standing arm in arm with their neighbors who are angry and feel helpless.

Our experience teaches us that in every community there are those who understand the issues they and their neighbors face far better than anyone on the outside. One of our primary functions at Leadership Foundations is to elevate and connect these potential and emergent leaders; to build a common ground that drives deeper insight into our problems and is able to discern what it takes to solve them. We know and have seen that through collaboration and collective action we can fashion solutions that actually work.

An example of this can be found in Minneapolis where the Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation works alongside 50+ local partners to address opportunity gaps in academics, nutrition, physical activity, parenting resources, and more—all with the overarching goal to prepare and send every youth in the South Minneapolis neighborhood to college or postsecondary education.

Urban Ventures is now in the middle of the perfect storm: buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic on one side and the senseless killing of Mr. Floyd that resulted in over 120 local businesses being burned down on the other side. As Urban Ventures swims in this overwhelming tide of sorrow and suffering,  they are doing what they have always done for the last 25 years: working in, with and through relationships to provide food, rent, mortgage assistance, and  support to small businesses just to name a few. It is concrete action that wears a relational overcoat.

Our cities are living, breathing organisms that reflect and manifest our collective joys, sorrows, and hopes. And, while cities continue to offer real signs of hope, we too often continue to see them as battlegrounds, with the zero-sum game mentality that this encourages – what one side gains the other surrenders. But if we can begin to regard our cities more as playgrounds, we can see there is more abundance than scarcity. Through collaboration and collective action community centers once abandoned are reborn, parks once derelict and dangerous are now green and full of families, and our streets are places of peace and good will.

There is no single answer that will solve the long history of racialized violence represented in George Floyd’s death, and the similar pain that we are experiencing in our cities all over the world. What any answer will be characterized by, however, is the courage to walk down two paths paved by relationship: coming to grips with our personal complicity and the collective commitment to work with others.

It will determine whether our cities are battlegrounds or playgrounds.


A Hope-Filled Wait

There are a lot of universal experiences right now as a result of this pandemic. The one I’d like to consider together is the universal experience of waiting.

We are all doing a lot of waiting right now and like the psalmist we cry out, “How long, O Lord?”  

Waiting is hard.  We’re all waiting for things to “open up” again. We want freedom from our stay at home orders. We want things to get back to normal.

Yet, waiting is one of God’s favorite invitations to us. In the waiting there is some Biblical advice that turns waiting into something active rather than something that is merely passive. Waiting in a Biblical worldview is largely about living in hope: holding on to what we know to be true and looking for the signs of God’s presence in the midst of our wait.

Changing Perspective

Waiting informed by hope is more than standing still and lamenting all that isn’t. It is about pivoting. If we can’t move forward in the direction we want to go, we can pivot on one foot, change our perspective and ask ourselves what we can see, what we can know, what we can do in the space where we have to remain. It’s the invitation that Jeremiah called the exiles in Babylon to consider:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare

Jeremiah 29:5-7

Pivot. Change your perspective. Take in where you are and do what you can in that place. Live in hope rather than a state of longing informed mostly by despair. We all have our own versions of what such a pivot might bring into view and many of us are acting on the invitations that have come into focus.

What would this kind of pivot look like in your own life?

Here at Leadership Foundations we have pivoted in the 40+ cities around the world that we love and serve. Some of us are providing food to the vulnerable in our city and others are mentoring youth online. We have also created an ambitious activation fund to raise much needed support to enable our cities to continue the critical relief work they are doing.

As each of us continues to wait during this time, let’s pivot to take in what is around us, asking God to show us what we have not yet seen. God’s love has not stopped. God’s presence is still something on which we can rely. Let’s give witness to both of these truths as we seek the welfare of the cities to which God has sent us.

Barb Marshall is a member of the Leadership Foundations Board, providing critical strategic support to our network of 40+ local Leadership Foundations around the world. She co-leads a weekly prayer time on behalf of the LF global network. Barb has over 30 years of experience in education, ranging from elementary education to leadership development to spiritual formation.

COVID-19 Town Hall Meetings

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Leadership Foundations began holding weekly Town Hall Meetings spotlighting relevant experts, theological responses to the crisis, and the real-time responses of the network. In case you have missed them or want to rewatch, you can find the recordings below.

April 1 Town Hall featuring:

  • Dan Cardinali, President & CEO, Independent Sector
  • June Carrington, Beacons of Hope, New York City, NY
  • Abhishek Gier, Catalyst Leadership Foundation, Delhi, India
  • Nathaniel Price, Transform Scott County, Georgetown, KY

April 8 Town Hall featuring:

  • Dale Irvin, Sr Innovation Fellow​, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
  • Lisa Slayton, Sr Innovation Fellow, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
  • Randy White​, The Center for Community Transformation, Fresno, CA

April 15 Town Hall featuring:

  • Noel Castellanos​, Sr Innovation Fellow​, Colangelo Carpenter Innovation Center
  • Rudy Carrasco​, Program Director​, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust ​
  • Sam Skillern, Salem Leadership Foundation, Salem, OR
  • Eric Geary, Lexington Leadership Foundation, Lexington, KY

April 22 Town Hall featuring:

  • Rev. Dr. Terry McGonigal​, Director of the Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University
  • Larry Lloyd, Memphis Leadership Foundation
  • Leadership Foundations Impact Analysis Results

April 29 Town Hall featuring:

  • Doug Holladay, Founder & CEO, PathNorth
  • Wilna De Beer, Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Leadership Foundations COVID-19 Campaign

May 6 Town Hall featuring:

  • A Funding Opportunity for Local Leadership Foundations in partnership with Whitworth University
  • Lisa Lampman and Bianca Singleton updating us on the response from the LF Mentoring network
  • Lina Thompson, Senior Pastor at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church
Child from Lexington

Serving Our City in Crisis

Like so many others, we could have never imagined what the beginning of 2020 would hold for our world and nation. We at Lexington Leadership Foundation (LLF) have been challenged with the question,

“How do we serve our city, while still adhering to the guidelines set in place for our community’s safety?”

What does LLF’s role for the city look like during this time? Our team has been collaborating on the best ways to serve our neighbors. We suspended our regular in-person programming and adjusted our work to address the pressing needs of people in our community and shine Christ’s love and light.
Gathering meals for distribution throughout Lexington
We are working with our partners to serve hundreds of meals to children and families- averaging 136 meals distributed per day, along with a smile and a friendly face. We will continue to do this as long as we are able. Our staff is also checking in on our students, their families, volunteers, and partners to identify their needs and connecting them to resources. A few of our students didn’t have a computer at home, so we helped get them one to ensure the kids could do their schoolwork. One of our bi-lingual team members is taking on the role of Resource Coordinator, working by phone to provide emotional support during an overwhelming time and help families access available resources.
We don’t know how long life will operate like this, but we do know that God is good and in control. In the midst of these uncertain times, we continue to lean into our call to serve Lexington and the people who call it home.
dedicated Lexington Volunteers
Dedicated volunteers of Lexington LF distributing supplies and loving neighbors
thank you card

Thank You!

Last month, we asked you to contact your legislator to advocate for support to non-profits during stimulus act negotiations.

Many of you took action by contacting your legislators.  Thank you! As a result of our collective action, Independent Sector recently shared that…
  • Nonprofit needs are included for the first time in all emergency relief packages related to COVID-19
  • All taxpayers can claim the charitable deduction for the first time in 34 years
  • Critical federal programs received additional funds to meet growing needs
  • and Initial federal funding is available to begin establishing systems to help voters safely participate in 2020 elections   
Thank you for helping to make this progress possible and for your support of Local Leadership Foundations and partners work on the ground in communities across the world!

An Invitation into the Chaos

How God’s Love Can Be Your Fuel Amidst COVID-19

In this season of spring, many of us are experiencing winter, with very little sight of its end date.  For some of us, it is a season of exhaustion, loss, grief, strain, and chaos. We may be experiencing trauma either first-hand or indirectly. And we may not even know it.  For those experiencing this, the stress hormone, cortisol, can be heightened putting us on “high alert.” We may experience tension and pain in our bodies, our minds may be foggy or moving too fast.  We can become easily triggered and highly reactive.  Sleep may elude us – or maybe consumes us.

What does it look like to depend upon God to lead us during this time of chaotic noise? How do we connect, be quiet. How do we simply be?  As Dave Hillis stated in last month’s Street Lights, the concept of “non-reactive leadership” may hold deep promise in these anxiety-producing times.

But how do we go about it?

When Helping Hurts

When asked by an expert of the law what is the greatest commandment, Jesus answers,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Mark 12: 28-30
Notice how Jesus identifies the second commandment, loving our neighbor, as an outflowing of loving God—I think this is no accident. Jesus is saying come to me with all you got. Your loving me is the source of loving your neighbor. Your loving me really means surrendering to me – with your body, mind, heart, and spirit. In this time of “winter”, where the needs of those in our communities have escalated, the risk of burnout and unhealth becomes even more of a danger. In normal times and in this time of crisis, it is easy to flip the order of the two commandments. Loving your neighbor becomes all-consuming. And loving God somehow gets lost in the frenzy. But this is not sustainable –personally or organizationally. Along my own journey of working alongside many “street saints” — those who are living out their vocation of loving the most vulnerable in their communities — I’ve seen and experienced plenty of burnout, exhaustion, strained relationships, addiction, self-sabotage, and organizational combustion. I wonder if sometimes this can be a reflection of having lost touch with Jesus’ two intertwined commandments. So what does following the first commandment look like in times like these? How do we surrender all to our creator who asks us to love God with all of ourselves?

“Come to Me, all you who are weary…”

Contemplata is the Latin word “to see”. Contemplative practices are those practices that provide us a way to connect with God with all of ourselves. They are practices that help us surrender all of our pieces and parts to God: 1) grounding our bodies enough to feel and release the tension and trauma we store, 2) quieting our minds enough to stop the constant egoic thoughts, 3) opening our hearts enough to be vulnerable and take down the walls of self-protection, and 4) being able to connect to receive the love, insight, and direction God has for us.

Through this practice of integrating these four elements into our lives, we are invited into a space to be still. To recognize God’s overwhelming grace-filled movement toward us. To be loved by God.

And then, from this place of being, we can move into doing. We can better hear God’s voice, we are integrated and strong for the task, and we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

A Brief Practice

Ground your body

by gently stretching your whole body. Then bring your awareness to any tension you may be holding – especially in your shoulders and hips. Gently move to release that tension.

Quiet your body

by inhaling and exhaling deeply ten times, expanding your belly as you inhale.

Open your heart

by closing your eyes and opening your palms, imagining that you are carrying a particular worry or burden in your hands. Inhale, and as you exhale, imagine letting go of that burden and giving it to God, even just for a moment.

Connect to the Spirit

by taking a scripture verse or a poem, and reading it through four times (as in Lectio Divina style), noticing what word or phrase jumps out at you, what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you, and your prayer or response. For a guided Integrated Pause video session, visit WinnSummitStrategies.com and click on Integrated Pause. On Mondays at 10 am EST, Angie offers a free “Virtual Pause” through zoom, which is a 30-minute integrated practice, especially designed for the “street saints”. You can find the invitation and other resources on the website.

Angie Winn is a member of Leadership Foundations’ Leadership Council and has spent 25 years providing leadership and organizational development to corporate, non-profit, and ministry leaders and teams.

She now leads Winn Summit Strategies and helps integrate contemplative practices for individuals, leaders and organizations, through consulting, coaching, workshops, and retreats.

She also leads yoga and meditation practices locally at her Loft on Main space outside of Orlando, FL.