When I heard Jake and Jean were so jacked about hearing Brene Brown speak at their recent conference near the Air Force Academy, I figured we were in for a real treat this week with Dare To Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts.  Their contagiousness was infectious and Brene Brown did not disappoint! I was shocked at how many ACTUAL applications I had this week from our text (I only wish I knew how to put that little mark over the e in Brene).
The Pastor in Boise whose church I gut-wrenchingly closed last Sunday ACTUALLY said this to me, word for word,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt 
Last week I asked the Pastor of the largest church in our denomination how I could pray for him, he ACTUALLY responded with a one word request; courage!
“Courage is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured. The four skill sets are: Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust, and Learning to Rise.” Brene Brown 
I received a surprising one sentence resignation letter from a Pastor in North Dakota today. Unsurprisingly, his overseers ACTUALLY told him he lacked this one vital characteristic, vulnerability. This Pastor never let a single person in, like a desert island, through several years of connected ministry. Not one friend, confidant, or mentor. We fellow Pastors liked him, but he remained emotionally isolated. It was heartbreaking! Dr. Brown, trained as a social worker, said this about vulnerability,
“The definition of vulnerability as the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure…vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome….Are vulnerable experiences easy? No. Can they make us feel anxious and uncertain? Yes. Do they make us want to self-protect? Always. Does showing up for these experiences with a whole heart and no armor require courage? Absolutely.” 
Last Wednesday, I sat in front of a local church Council in Wyoming, pointedly talking about the request for ordination of a same sex attracted Children’s Pastor, defending our denomination’s stance of not affirming homosexual behavior, while still holding the obvious tension on our miraculous transformation journeys surrounding holiness and sanctification. This one ACTUAL jewel of Brown’s kept screaming in my overly tired head,
“Clear is kind, unclear is unkind…Feeding people half-truths or bull**** to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind. Not getting clear about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind. Talking about people rather than to them is unkind.” 
After Monday’s Zoom I very publicly apologized to Dr. Jason about my very public display of disrespect with the question, “What about the Catholic Church?” The ACTUAL words that were jumping around in my mind for a few hours before taking responsibility ACTUALLY mirrored number 3 on Brene’s self-preservation list on page 51,
“No way am I going to be honest about this. No one else does it. Why do I have to put myself out there?” 
I’m still glad I apologized. Kinda maybe. Probably certainly.
I am trying to put into practice this helpful new concept from Dare to Lead called ”wholeheartedness—an unarmored heart”.  I would appreciate your prayers. Tomorrow I am in New Mexico working with two Navajo churches trying to use earlier lessons from our previously helpful book The Culture Map,
“You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.” Erin Meyers 
It’s ACTUALLY been a whale of a week. Today, I am grateful to be meeting face to face near a Western airport with Dave Ramsey’s team, who have ventured far from Nashville and are helping me with my final field research project. It has been a healthy respite from several professional challenges I find myself navigating. I am not complaining, just being honest.
Thanks for the timely help, Ms. Brown! And for the accurate recommendation, Jake and Jean! And to our whole Cohort, thank you for your graciousness and camaraderie. May we always be colleagues!
 Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. New York: Random House, 2018.
 Ibid., XVII.
 Ibid., 10.
 Ibid., 19.
 Ibid., 48.
 Ibid., 50.
 Ibid., 51.
 Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done across Cultures. New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2015. 26.