Posted By Aaron Marcelli on May 19, 2013
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on May 14, 2013
People seem to have so many opinions and beliefs today. And while that’s not wrong, what doesn’t seem right is how seriously people take their own beliefs….about everything. Criticize someone’s favorite entertainer and some people turn on you like you personally attacked them. Make a casual comment about politics or religion and most will immediately get defensive. We even have strong beliefs about our beliefs. I’ve heard it said that you don’t choose your beliefs; your beliefs choose you. It’s also been said that a person’s beliefs are the most important thing about them. But if you think about it, our beliefs, most the time, are not even logical.
We are very emotional creatures, and as a result our beliefs are not built on logic as much as we would like to think. Rather, we pick and choose what we want to be true. That’s why we almost always approach a discussion or debate not from a position of learning as much as from a position of defense. In our minds, the case is already closed. We will quickly dismiss the reasoning of someone else only to want them to seriously consider our own reasoning.
Let’s say I challenge another person to a discussion on what we both considered an important topic. We both agree that based on whoever presents the most facts and makes the best argument, we will both walk away holding the ‘winning’ view. Very few people (if any) would agree to such a scenario. Each of us already think we are right and are equally sincere and passionate about our differing beliefs.
My goal is not to try and change anyone’s beliefs, but help us understand the way we choose our beliefs. After all, if all our opinions were based on sound logic wouldn’t we all root for the same sports teams? It’s important to acknowledge that our own beliefs have some strong points, but we’ve each overlooked some facts and sound logic to get to the conclusion we did. We must always enter disagreements with the understanding we could be wrong.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on April 15, 2013
In my current studies about business, one thing I’ve really been drawn to and interested in is businesses that treat their employees well. This means fair pay and benefit options, of course, but can also mean so much more. I like it when companies are creative in how to take care of and provide for those who work for them.
Bank of America provides all their newly hired college grads with career planning guides with expected timetables and steps to promotion. A growing trend is for major companies to provide on-site childcare for their employees. A company I used to contract with provides adoption assistance as well as free GED completion courses for employees. Also, most large corporations have training departments to provide ongoing training and equipping for their employees. Most of this training is work-based and helps qualify employees to better themselves and move up in the organization. Some companies also provide training not directly related to work or industry, such as social skills, leadership, etc.
I’m an education junkie so I think companies providing training is great. It allows employees the option of not getting stuck in the organizational chart because they chose many years ago not to continue their education. Such training also allows companies to know their employees are educated the way they would want, rather than trusting that other companies and educational institutions are doing their due diligence.
I think the bad economy has scared some companies so that as soon as things get better, their employees will be fleeing to greener pastures. Some companies are taking proactive approaches to invest in their workforce and are working to build commitment and morale. The inequality and mistreatment of employees is still present in far too many businesses, but I’m glad to see a growing number are doing it right. Perhaps this will shift the momentum and force all the others to get on track.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on April 9, 2013
In my opinion, the Christian community does not talk enough about faith. Faith is believed to be the basis of our…….well, faith. The writer of Hebrews says she thinks it’s impossible to even please God without faith. But not only do we miss talking enough about this distinctive essential, I’m not even sure we have a proper understanding of it.
I grew up believing that faith and belief were interchangeable. Faith was simply an expression of trust, belief, thought, hope, etc. And I can see how one would think that. Until we look at what’s in the Bible.
The brother of Jesus wrote that if someone claims to have faith but has no good works, they send a confusing message. He then goes on to say others can try to show their faith without good deeds but he will choose to show his faith by his good deeds.
In this short contrasting of ideas about faith, found in James 2, I think a picture is painted of many Christians who claim they have faith and think such is the end of the matter. Faith is not something you say; faith is something you do. Plenty of Christians have the right words, but more of us need to demonstrate actions that match those words.
Faith is an action. We act on faith. We prove our faith through our actions. If we truly believe something is going to happen (a basic definition of faith), then we will act accordingly. To claim faith in something and then live in a contrasting manner only shows we don’t actually believe our own words.
Because faith has been under-demonstrated and misrepresented in our Christian communities, I believe we need a shift in that we no longer make statements of faith but perform actions of faith. Don’t say you believe things are about to change if you’re not going to change in preparation for your claim. If you proclaim in faith that a situation is about to work out, then you better be doing all you can to make it work out.
Faith is not an excuse to be lazy. Rather, faith is a gift from God that gives direction to our work. When we sense faith about a situation, it is a call to action and we are responsible to live that out. In doing so, we work our faith and create a faith that works.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on April 3, 2013
In today’s business market the focus is not on what it used to be. In years past the laws of supply and demand were simple. Today, any company can get you decent products relatively quickly and rather cheap. If they can’t, they won’t be in business long.
Certainly for some people price is still king. Most likely, such people do all their shopping at Wal-Mart. But think for a moment about the businesses you frequent and consider what your internal reasoning is for choosing those companies. Take a look at the companies in America that have shown growth in the last decade or so. Why do you think they’ve grown?
Is it because they are the only business selling their product? No.
Is it because their prices are always the lowest? No.
Whether you realize it or not, most likely you choose many of the places you shop based on their company’s culture and values. Is Apple the only company selling music players and phones? No. But people choose them for the simplicity and customer service.
We choose our grocery store based on their commitment to organic and healthy food. I choose my mechanic based on his friendliness (and because I know his sister). It’s about more than just price and product.
We see that a certain company is an official sponsor of the Olympics, so we want to support them. We hear that another company uses under-paid workers overseas so we don’t give them our business anymore.
This is the shift in our society. We no longer shop at the most convenient stores with the lowest prices. We are more aware of what a company’s beliefs are than ever before and those values affect how and where we shop (anyone remember the Chick-Fil-A thing?)
I see this trend as a good thing as it demands businesses be more transparent in how they do business as the public at large is watching their behavior toward their employees, the environment, and their political action. This is a great reminder that we, the customer, still control the market.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on March 19, 2013
One of my first posts when I launched this blog was a listing of five celebrities I would like to meet. Though it was just for fun the list was not well thought out an included two too many female pop singers. So three years later here is my updated list of the five celebrities I would like to meet.
- Donald Miller – Don was on my first list and is the only one from that first group to make the updated list. I’m not sure I would say that Don is even my favorite author but I appreciate the way he thinks and know I would enjoy a 30 minute chat over coffee with him.
- Denzel Washington – In my opinion Denzel always plays the role of the confident and upright character most of us want to be. He has a demeanor that seems to indicate he understands the world with a peace most of us don’t. Whether it’s who he really is or his incredible acting I believe I could gain a lot of wisdom by sitting down with the famous actor.
- Warren Buffet – Pursuing my MBA has put me in more business circles and made me aware of the simple wisdom included in everything Buffet says. One night I go lost in a series of Youtube videos, each titled “Warren Buffet’s thoughts about….” Despite his fame and fortune Buffet still understands the struggles of the common man and addresses those struggles with practical solutions that seem so simple you wonder why you didn’t think of them. If I were able to sit down with Buffet I would probably run through a list of topics just to get his input and advice on each.
- President Barack Obama – Who would not want the chance to sit down with the most powerful person in our country (My apologies to Oprah)? There is the President Obama we all know, when the cameras are on and he is being challenged on everything he says. I would love to have an off-the-record conversation with the President just to better understand who he really is. I would probably talk very little with him about politics and more about his motivations, how he handles criticism, and what his faith means to him as a world leader.
- Bono – Not only is the rock star an icon for cool, he is someone who has used his position of authority to do a lot of good in the world regarding poverty, aids, and world hunger. There are a lot of musicians in the world but Bono is the only one who has the attention of his industry, the ear of modern presidents, the respect of almost everyone, and the connections to really make a difference. I get the feel that Bono uses music as a resource to do better, more important things with his life. Through being on the ground in the battle against evil and pursuing speaking engagements before many people of power, Bono has a lot to say about life, charity and the human condition. I would love to ask him how everyday people like me could make the most meaningful difference.
Who are the celebrities you would like to meet?
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on March 7, 2013
Most people would feel bad for complaining about their job in a poor economy, yet the truth is that many are either under-employed or not working in their field of choice. This can lead to apathy, disdain, and lack of motivation. Workers can find themselves in a rut of under-performing as a result of feeling under-paid or under-utilized by their employer.
So what’s the solution to this negative cycle?
From experience, I have observed that the best source of value and appreciation (even when under-employed) is hard work and accomplishment. No matter if you think your current job reflects your skills and experience or not, something about hard work and success brings a sense of confidence and accomplishment that we all desire.
Motivation at your current position may not come easy. You may feel your title completely undercuts your abilities. But there is something inside you that still desires to be productive. If you were meant for bigger and better things, every once-in-a-while you may still need to prove to yourself you can perform right where you are.
So rather than waiting for something better to come along, dig your heals in and show that you’re ready and able to handle a better position by faithfully doing well what you’re responsible for now. I understand and can relate to anyone feeling stuck at work, desiring to be doing something else. But I also know using your current job as an excuse to shirk points you in the wrong direction. Go out and show your value! Prove you are better than your title.
In doing so you may just find you gain more satisfaction right where you are. Not because the job has gotten better, but because you have. And now you’re experiencing the satisfaction of a job (any job) well done.
PS – On a related note, here’s a post I did a couple years ago on dealing with a job you hate.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on March 5, 2013
In March of 2010 my book Repentance and Recovery was released. In the three years since that time I have learned a lot. Looking back on the entire experience of studying, writing, publishing and promoting several things stick out to me.
- I wish I had not rushed so much. I was in such a hurry to get the book out that I outsourced all the editing and did very little re-writing. I now look at parts of the book that don’t flow well and wish I had spent more time making it better. I consider myself a good writer and feel bad that not every part of my book reflects this.
- I was too general. Because I wanted the focus of the book to be repentance and restoration, I went into great detail about those parts of my story while being awkwardly vague about what lead me to repentance. Part of this was honestly because I was afraid being too transparent could close doors for future ministry. I now realize I failed being real in a way I challenged my readers to be. Seeking counsel from others who had already been through this process could have helped me avoid this mistake.
- There are some good sources available that address restoration. In my book I made the claim there were no existing resources about repentance. It is true that when I sought out books to guide me through my guilt and shame I was unsuccessful. But I’ve since learned mine is not the only story out there. Justin Davis went through an affair after planting a church and now his wife and he retell their story through this blog. Perry Noble also did a decent podcast on church staff restoration that addresses sin and repentance.
- It was worth it. In the end, I spent two years writing, paid multiple editors, self-published, and (because I’m giving all royalties to missions) made no money on the book. However, it was a great experience. Much of the book’s content began as journaling that was therapeutic for me as I walked through repentance. The publishing process made me more familiar with the Christian writing industry. And should I become a best-selling author in the future my first book is not one I would ever be ashamed of or try to live down.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on February 13, 2013
A little over two years ago we were knee deep in church planting. I was making plans to quit my job, we were looking at houses in another city, I was writing letters to potential staff members and donors, and we were enrolled with a school of church planting. I was immersed in the church planting culture.
I say culture because I realized it truly is its own society. There are many more organizations for church planting than I have ever been a part of so excuse me if I’m painting with a wide brush, but within the groups I was, I now realize there is a tendency to create a cookie cutter model. At every church planting class or conference most people looked the same and talked the same. We would each sit in the circle and share our vision and mission for a relaxed and relevant church that had intentional music, cool lights, and practical teaching.
But since our plans got delayed, I’ve had to step back. Church planting no longer dominates my life. And as a result some things have changed in me. Allow me to share three:
- I’m no longer jealous. I never wished bad on anyone, but there was always a little pride in me that flared up when I heard of others wanting to start churches in the same city as me. I no longer feel threatened by those wanting to plant churches in the Chattnooga area. It’s sad, but removing myself from that young pastor culture has helped me be more humble.
- I look forward to moving to Chattanooga more naturally. Rather than moving there specifically to start a church, where every relationship built would have been with the purpose of getting them in church, I now hope we can move there without an agenda. Having no ulterior motive will cause things to be much more organic and genuine as we have learned we really want to be a part of the community of Chattanooga, whether it’s for ministry or not.
- I have no idea what kind of church we will start. In church planting culture everyone seemed to be planting the same church in different locations and basically whoever pulled it off the best was going to be the most successful. I became in gulped in that system and was spending lots of time coming up with polished and trendy presentations and phrases. Now, I have no desire to start a church that looks just like every other new church. I have a specific burden for a specific part of the city and the needs there should determine what our church looks like. I have no idea what that means, specifically, but I feel more freedom now to simply be who I am and see what ministry comes from that.
Sometimes God allows our plans to be delayed. Sometimes we have a dream and then have to suffer as that dream gets put on hold for a period of time. My hope, though, is that because of this pause in our plans, the church we plant years after my intended timeline will be more about God and less about structure.
Stepping back has given me a larger perspective and pointed me back to God for my ministry calling.
Posted By Aaron Marcelli on February 6, 2013
Several months ago I received a copy of Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo’s new book, Red Letter Revolution, to review on my blog. I’m just now getting around to writing the review. Mostly, that’s because the book was so uninteresting it could not keep my attention enough to help me get through it.
The book is laid out as a conversation between the two authors where they go back and forth addressing the current events topic that is the title of each chapter. You can clearly see who says what. It’s as though the book was written through a series of emails or is a transcribed conversation. Such an approach was interesting for a while and is unlike anything I’ve seen that coauthors have done before. It didn’t take long for this form to ware on me, though, as the obvious and repeated dynamic was an old man with a bunch of opinions opposite a hippie with questionable stories. Please note I’m a fan of Compolo and would recommend his book, Red Letter Christians. I’ve never read Claiborne before but am intrigued by his approach to culture and Christianity. So I don’t have an ax to grind against these guys, I just found this book unnecessary.
As the title suggests the purpose of the book is to define and legitimize the beliefs of a new movement called Red Letter Christians. For years I’ve heard Compolo talk about this group, yet he (and now Claiborne) is the only one I hear talking about them and I’ve never met anyone who called themselves such. I’m just not sure it’s actually happening.
The book’s chapters take on issues such as hell, Islam, being pro-life, and the environment. I felt slighted in many of the chapters as the authors, in an attempt to address the issue from a new perspective, many times fail to address the issue at all and form almost a bait and switch to talk about another topic they believe is related.
As I said before, I just believe the book is unnecessary. I don’t think there are all that many Christians still out there who hold to the legalistic, right-wing views of Christians from the 1950’s. Rather than start a new sect of Christianity, most I know would rather redefine for our culture the one that already exists. This book fails to do so. That’s why without strongly disagreeing with what the books says, I still would only give it one star. You’d be better off using your time to actually read the red letters.