One Thing

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The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

Welcome to “One Thing”, our summer blog and mini-Engage series. Here’s how it works. Each Monday one of our pastoral staff will post a blog addressing the following:

  • One thing I’m grateful for
  • One thing I’m learning
  • One devotional thought or insight that is forming or challenging me

While Socrates may have overstated his case, we’ve discovered that regular self-reflection is a powerful and often underutilized practice for growth. So, we hope that as we reflect in writing each week, you’ll join in your own self-reflection.

Then, each Wednesday at noon, the blog author will provide a 10-15 minute video post expanding on the devotional thought for that week. Think of it as a mini-Engage Bible Study that you can view at any time. We hope you enjoy it, grow from it, and share it with friends.

So, here we go:

One thing I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for a lot of things, but what always tops my list is my wife, Nancy. I could list a lot of reasons, but here’s the one that resonates with me today – Nancy wakes up with a smile on her face. Not some days. Not most days. Every day. It doesn’t matter what yesterday was like. Today is a new day, and Nancy greets it with a smile, which challenges me each day to do the same.

One thing I’m learning. I just finished an outstanding book entitled Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Based on solid research the authors dismantle some commonly held misconceptions such as “the best employees are well-rounded” and “people need feedback.” One nugget I’m taking away is that people’s strengths are where their brains are most developed. Neurological studies show that our brains literally grow, not where there is little development but where there is already the most development. One implication is that working on “weaknesses” is far less effective than honing strengths. Supervisors who focus attention on a staff member’s “areas for improvement” aren’t helping their staff to grow most effectively.

One devotional thought or insight that is forming or challenging me. I’ve been spending time in John’s Gospel, chapter 14-17, a section of Scripture often referred to as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. Having told his disciples that he is leaving them, he comforts them in their sadness and their anxiety, and leaves them with the remarkable promise of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. I’ve read this section of Scripture literally hundreds of times, but in our current crisis it has taken on a new and powerful meaning. Like the disciples, we are entering unknown territory. We are traveling off the map, heading toward a “new normal”. That can be a frightening prospect, until you remember that One who knows the way through is walking alongside you. I’ll say some more about that on Wednesday. You’ll find it at or

What are you grateful for? What are you learning? What’s challenging or forming you spiritually?

Pastor Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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  • Bonnie Featherstone

    This will be an excellent communication tool continuing Christian learning with our learned staff.
    Blessings on Nancy for waking as a ray of sunshine each day and on you for being able to receive and celebrate
    My comment on the book- Often I feel the church does the same thing, minister to my weaknesses vs my strengths. It has always perplexed me.

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