B. Faith Leaders

Faith Leaders

Isolation, Stress, and Mental Health – JLD

As April is Stress Awareness Month, and ironically this is also the timeframe we are dealing with this virus thing, let us talk briefly about something we all experience. Stress. That feeling of emotional or physical “tension” can help you avoid danger or get things done faster, but long term stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. In The Church and The Community, Page 125, I mentioned how I enjoy releasing stress on the dance floor, but during these troubling times, I will largely be dancing alone. But what about you… how do you alleviate your stress? While some people kind of enjoy this period of isolation, others may  experience traumatic, mental health struggles that need to be addressed. Please be proactive if you find yourself stressed… turn on some music, get a little exercise, and call a hotline if you feel your stress is unbearable. Be strong. Stay safe. And don’t stress too much.

Coronavirus, Distancing, and Hypocrisy – JLD

You have probably heard about the pandemic caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are hundreds of thousands of cases, and tens of thousands of deaths, but also many unanswered questions. Are we rightly concerned or overly hysteric about something that only kills a single digit percentage of people? And with allied health, bar, child care, cosmetology, emergency, gas station, grocery, medical, restaurant, and transportation workers all being considered “essential”, the prohibitions of mass gatherings is really just shifting said gathering from one place to another. We are failing at social distancing, because I am selfish and I need to travel to get things, but you need to stay home. In The Church and The Community, Page 26, I quoted a verse which shows how hypocrisy blinds you to your culpability in things. In these troubling times, please look inward and change your actions, not those of others.

Keeping Your Priorities Straight – JLD

On October 10th, a husband, father, rabbi, and author announced that he would be running for Mayor of Georgetown Texas. As if Jonathan Dade’s schedule was not full enough, how will he be able to keep his priorities straight with God first, his family second, ministry third, and the consultancy fourth, as he wrote about in The Church and The Community, Special Mayor Edition, Page ix? The answer starts with identifying the most important things in one’s life, then ordering them based on importance, while also factoring in which things will require more resources. The next most important consideration is knowing which people or things to say yes to, and which to say no to, based upon what adds value to what you are about. Finally, delegate, delegate, delegate… without a team of people around you, it would be extremely difficult to do a lot, while also keeping your priorities straight. Yet, it is possible

Can Faith Leaders Run For Office – JLD

Despite Synagogues and Churches being great places of influence, where likeminded people should rally around political candidates who reflect their values, the Internal Revenue Service prohibits 501(c)(3) non-profits from participating in political campaigns. The “separation of church and state” further states that congress (the state) cannot drafts laws to favor religion (church), or prohibit the free exercise thereof, but does this mean your Rabbi or Pastor is unable to run for local, state, or federal office? In The Church and The Community, Page 1, we learn that President Ronald Regan affirmed separation of church and state but reminded everyone that America is a Judeo-Christian nation, under God. President Reagan also spoke against prayer being taken out of school. Your Rabbi or Pastor, representatives of faith or “the church”, can run for office, and praise God, hundreds are doing so!

Unaccompanied Veteran Funeral – JLD

Funerals can be difficult for the family, attendees, and also the officiant. As I wrote about in The Church and The Community, Page 214, sometimes the wishes of the family might not be in keeping with the deceased, so it is important to draft a will. There is also the attendees, who have their ideas of how to honor (or grieve) the deceased but who’s desires do they represent? And finally there is the minister who was asked to officiate the service… we do the best we can, but it can be difficult to speak about the life of someone we did not know. This was the case for Rabbi Jonathan, who officiated the funeral service for an unaccompanied veteran, and thanks to calls for support from the media, there was hundreds of people in attendance. So while death might not be the most enjoyable of topics, we invite you to consider your funeral, draft a will, and know that loving people want to honor your wishes, if you ask them to beforehand.

Faith Leaders Make A Difference – JLD

Three weeks ago, the Austin American Statesman published an article wherein Rabbi Jonathan called out a judge who perpetuated an injustice. The backstory is a law enforcement officer in the county over which said judge presides, made demeaning, racist, and sexist posts on social media, which the judge liked. Now while it would be natural for that judge to react negatively towards Rabbi Jonathan for admonishing his actions, Judge Gravell did the opposite. Following several public apologies, Judge Gravell appointed Rabbi Jonathan to a special committee to review policies that would deter county employees (and officials) from making similar mistakes. Wow. In The Church and The Community, Page 87, there was an apology narrative involving high schools students but this folks, is a story with much more modern, and epic proportions. This story also reminds us, faith leaders can make a difference.

Suicide At The Highest Levels – JLD

An Olympic cycling medalist, Kelly Catlin, committed suicide in her dorm at Stanford University. Freeda George Foreman, the daughter of former heavyweight champion George Foreman, recently died by suicide. And a Forbes Top Ten influencer, Justin Beiber, is asking his fans to pray for his depression. There is no amount of success or fame that can shield someone from the thoughts that lead them to a fatal decision, and some might argue that the spotlight exasperates the issue(s). The key issue is doing what I did in The Church and The Community, Page 193… telling loved ones you are struggling. If you do not think you have anyone to talk to, please contact RLB Echad and we will connect you with Jonathan Dade. No one is ever alone and especially those of faith should know that a higher power is always present. Please stay in this broken world with us. We have a job to do.

The Bible Can End The Shutdown – JLD

Bible teachers are hardcore devil stomping ninjas, and Scripture has the key to end our government shutdown. Yet has your Pastor or Rabbi addressed the shutdown, from the pulpit? Now, more than ever, our beliefs need to be integrated or united, into our worldly-secular problem. We are at 24 days and counting of the FDA not inspecting our food, E-Verify not working as an electronic wall of sorts, and TSA employees working without compensation (and proper staffing). The Bible provides guidance, on how to overcome the current impasse or stalemate between Republicans and Democrats… forgiveness and letting go of bitterness, meeting with the goal of resolution, and communicating what each side will give, are principles that will also solve our problem. In The Church and The Community, Page 221, the conclusion was that faith leaders need to step up… will they? And when we encourage them to do so?

Vote Today and Vote Wisely – JLD

As midterm elections are upon us in the United States, we are presented with various candidates who may, and may not, support our values. And depending on your religious beliefs, the decision might be further complicated by trying to decide which secular leader, secretly (or openly) aligns with your theology. One movement or party though, is gaining momentum again in the United States, yet their premise stands in opposition to the Bible. In The Church and The Community, Page 74, I talked about Socialism, and likened it to a situation where my siblings took property from myself that they felt they deserved. Forget capitalism, entrepreneurship, hard work, or even reaping what you sow… just take from the people who have more, to give to people who have less. Socialism. Now ask yourself if the candidates you support, support the idea of socialism. Thoughts to consider, as you vote.

Most Judgmental, Least Forgiving – JLD

Most people respond to being angry or upset in a healthy, reasonable manner. When you accidentally broke the item your friend let you borrow, they got over it in a few days, and were content with the replacement you purchased. Your business colleague from whom you “stole” an account or client, got over it quickly, after a few drinks at the company party. Juxtapose this with the time you offended your sibling’s spouse, or upset someone in your church, and you have the story I wrote about in The Church and The Community, Page 54. Unlike how a friend or co-worker deals with offense, the Bible admits how a religious person upset is more unyielding than a strong city, and their quarreling is like the bars of a castle. One’s own family members often stay upset equally long, for similar reasons. It is time though to be less judgmental and more forgiving, especially for family, and fellow believers.

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