Stories of Transformation – Mike Weber

On Suffering in Leadership

We recently published a blog post about how flourishing cannot exist without suffering. I asked Mike Weber of ProMinent Fluid Controls, Inc. to reflect on the concept of suffering in leadership that Andy Crouch lays out in his book, “Strong and Weak.”

By definition, leaders have authority. But in order to lead well and to flourish as leaders, they must also bear hidden vulnerability, the weakness and the risk that no one else sees. This, Crouch says, is the drama of leadership. The willingness to not only bear the inevitable suffering that leadership requires but even more, to actively choose to embrace that suffering, knowing that it is the pathway to flourishing for the community is THE common characteristic we see in the most effective leaders.

If you know Mike you know that he is a unique blend of compassion and no nonsense. His immediate response was this; “It is not a philosophy, it is a reality that God grows us through suffering. “ In fact, just before my conversation with Mike he discussed this very issue with a senior member of his staff who manages an incredibly difficult client. “There are people in every industry that are insecure and aggressive. They are petulant and mean and they use their power and position to belittle those under them.” Honoring those customers and standing between them and others in the organization is a difficult to do and takes its toll on a leader. I asked him how he thinks about these situations. He said, “first, be prepared. You will encounter difficult people and situations. Don’t go it alone. People are embarrassed to talk about their struggles. You have to bring those pains and struggles into the light- offer them up to God, share them with coworkers and family. This may be uncomfortable but it is vital. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” A leader in God’s economy does not go into battle but to takes up the armor of God, bring their full self to the tasks at hand to the best end of those around them, and, in the end, to remain standing.

  • Be prepared. You have to know that difficult times will come if you are doing the right things.
  • Don’t go it alone. Have your trusted advisors close let them in on what’s going on. Seek God ask, “What do you want me to see in this?”
  • Celebrate a good outcome. Know that God suffers with us seek to find a spirit of gratitude and trust that faithfulness will bear fruit over time.

Mike said it well, “I don’t seek out difficulty but when it comes my way I don’t avoid it. I actually embrace it. I know that when time are hard I am more humble, more open, more willing to ask for help and more willing to share.”

How Our Words Impact the Sunday-to-Monday Gap

Have you ever sat in Church Sunday morning and listened to an amazing sermon about grace and forgiveness and then had to fire someone on Monday morning? Have you ever closed a deal or finished a project and wondered if what you do makes a difference in the world?

Dualistic Language

It can often feel like there is a chasm between what we hear on Sunday and how we apply that Monday through Saturday. Many of us know the life transforming power of the Gospel in our personal lives but don’t really consider the implications of that Gospel in what we do with 40-60+ hours of our week.

How can I go to church and experience profound grace and mercy despite my many mistakes and turn around and fire someone because they are incompetent in their role on Monday? It is really hard to reconcile being truly forgiven with accountability and results. We need a bigger context.

How can I go to church and experience profound grace and mercy despite my many mistakes and turn around and fire someone because they are incompetent in their role on Monday?

Sunday Words

Monday Words

Common Good
Shareholder Value

What Does The Gospel Have To Do With It?

The good news is that the Gospel is true and it is big. It is a comprehensive story about a God that made everything perfect; about people who wanted to be autonomous and godlike and screwed everything up; about that same God who loves his creation so much he was willing to take on a body that sweats and stinks just like ours, a God who gave up everything to rescue his good creation; and finally, about a God who invites his people to join him in the work of restoring his world until the day he will fully bring his Kingdom to be on earth as it is in heaven.

God’s Assignment For Us

God’s invitation to join him in His work is what fills the chasm between Sunday words and Monday words. Our task is to take the good creation in all of its many parts: family, law, government, business, art- to name a few, and discovering how to unlock and develop the goodness inherent in them. God uses us to rescue creation from the bending and breaking power of sin.

That means that as Christians when we put a deal together or complete a project, we can tap into the work God is doing to restore the good creation and make life better for everyone. It also means we can be honest about brokenness and sin. Sometimes that means making hard decisions– including firing a person for not being willing or able to do a job effectively, while at the same time, affirming their value as a person.

That means that as Christians when we put a deal together or complete a project, we can tap into the work God is doing to restore the good creation and make life better for everyone.

In God’s story there are no distinctions between Sunday and Monday words. It is easy to narrow our context, and limit our understanding of what God is doing. We desperately need each other to expand our view so that we don’t lose sight of the one context where all words invite understand in light of the big story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is it Better to Work for Government, Non-Profit, or For-Profit?

Jim Stout and Katie Tarara were interviewed by Kathy Emmons at Jubilee Professional 2016. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

How do you measure the meaning of your daily work? Does your work encourage human flourishing? Does it make a difference?

There are three types of agencies in the world that make it their mission to improve people’s lives: government, nonprofit, and for-profit. Does one of these agencies have a higher calling? Jim Stout and Katie Tarara discuss their transition from one agency to another. Their jobs changed, but their faith remained the focal point of their journey.

Jubilee Professional educates Christians on how to integrate faith and work. God’s path for each of us is unique and diverse. There is no “right” job when it comes to living out God’s calling; you can do it anywhere.

If your calling leads you to transition agencies, don’t focus on the differences. Focus on your high calling to serve God wherever you are.

How to Overcome the Three Challenges Christian Professionals Face

Dr. David Lewis spoke at Jubilee Professional 2016. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

Have you ever found yourself debating with others whether you must choose between evolution and creationism? This is one of many challenges Dr. David Lewis has faced as a biomedical scientist.

Sometimes, we are made to think that we must choose between belief in creation and acceptance of the theory of evolution, or simply, amongst religion and science. In the video below, Dr. David Lewis takes our audience through the story of his scientific career as a Christian who strives to apply God to all areas of his life.

Dr. Lewis addresses the three overarching challenges of being a Christian professional by looking at them through the lens of the Gospel and using examples from his own personal career path.

Challenge of Self

Ambition is great, as long as it is not selfish ambition. Allow God to teach you how to value of the success of others in the workplace.

Challenge of Anxiety

In the bible, we discover God’s responsibility for orchestrating the events on Earth. Dr. Lewis explains to us the importance of keeping faith in God rather than reality.

Challenge of Vision

Allow your knowledge of the glory of the Lord to speak through your work and actions in the work place.



An Entrepreneurial Mindset: Not Just for the Entrepreneur

When you hear the term “entrepreneur,” thoughts of starting a business, or designing a new technology may come to mind.

While it’s true that those are the actions of entrepreneurs, the idea of having an entrepreneurial mindset applies to everyone—including you, your coworkers, and even your pastor.

Having an entrepreneurial mindset doesn’t require you to run a startup company, it simply involves having innovative thoughts, and acting upon those thoughts. A person with an entrepreneurial mindset looks at their surroundings, and asks, what is it going to take to make this better, or how can I come up with ways to add value here? Then they pursue the necessary avenues to meet that need.

This mindset can be brought into any context, but it’s more than just about creating value—it’s also about valuing people.

As we make decisions throughout the day to create value, our world-view is a filter for those decisions; there is an ethic that guides a definition of the value we are looking to create. A biblical worldview calls us to value people as we work to create flourishing in the places we work, serve, and play.

Valuing people translates into recognizing the strengths and giftedness in oneself and others, which not only facilitates a solution to a problem, let’s say, but also contributes to human flourishing as a whole.

What does an entrepreneurial mindset look like in the arts? Working in the middle of a large corporation? As a retail manager? Leading a church?

Join 400 others who care about these questions and explore more about what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset at Jubilee Professional on Friday, February 19th in Pittsburgh.

Jubilee Professional is an annual gathering of marketplace, church, and nonprofit leaders who want to explore the profound connectedness of faith, work, art, and enterprise.

Learn More

Faith & Work Labs: The Question of Vocation

Last weekend on November 20-21, the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation hosted a gathering called Faith & Work Labs. This new initiative brought together over 40 theologians, pastors, and practitioners to participate in real dialogue around practical integration of Faith, Work, and Economics.

Sponsored in part by the Made to Flourish Network and the Kern Family Foundation, this event proved to be a powerful environment for the merging of those involved in different spheres of influence in our city.

Guest speaker Pastor Aaron Richardson from Detroit brought a richness to the day’s conversations as he shared about his experience in collaborating with churches and entrepreneurs in his city over the past 13 years.

Two local entrepreneurs had the opportunity to be featured as “case studies” for the day, as they each shared the complexities of a real-time business challenge they are facing. A panel of pastors, scholars, and  marketplace leaders responded to the cases, each bringing a valuable perspective that provided wisdom and encouragement to the entrepreneur facing the issue.

For the attendees, there was a great time of shared learning and conversation at each table as some presented their own challenges to their peers for discussion.

The day concluded with remarks from Steve Garber. He later reflected:

Pittsburgh has a long and unusual history of collaborative commitment to the city as a city, and today’s convening organization, the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, has led the way. They are taking the question of vocation seriously, understanding that a revitalized social ecology is dependent on a recovery of that rich vision of human life and labor that allows us to see beyond ourselves into the common good.

May their tribe be blessed, and their city prosper.


Check out our Facebook page for some great photos from Faith & Work Labs!

Check out the Washington Institute for more information on Steve Garber and what he is up to.

Photo Credit: Steve Garber

Building Capacity in Pittsburgh’s Nonprofits

While Pittsburgh continues to experience economic growth and entrepreneurial flourishing, there is a large segment of the population that is disconnected from the “renaissance” happening in the city.   Those people and places are largely the same ones that are served by the non-profit organizations in the Urban Leaders Project.

In January 2015 we created the Urban Leaders Project to give Christ-centered non-profit leaders an opportunity to sharpen their leadership and prepare their organizations for long-term effectiveness. The initial cohort, including 12 executive directors of Pittsburgh non-profits, participated in 5 months of teaching, coaching, and collaboration.

This offering seemed to strike a chord in the non-profit community, where leaders are eager to build capacity and cultivate professional community.

Word of mouth has already filled our next cohort, starting in January 2016, and we are thankful for the individuals and organizations that have sponsored leaders to participate in this initiative.

We are grateful to be able to serve godly leaders that are committed to making Pittsburgh more than just the “most livable city,” but a city known for God.

How the Leaders Collaborative Is Transformational

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”

Sometimes you don’t recognize the significance of something you go through until after you have gone through it. That was the case for me as I look back at my experience in the Leader’s Collaborative.

I went through the Leader’s Collaborative in 2012, I was 27 years old. I remember going to the opening retreat having no idea what to expect. Little did I know that going through the Collaborative would transform my life.

I remember sitting around the bon fire the first night of the retreat. I shared with the group that I was coming out of a season where I was deeply wounded. I wasn’t sure if I could be used by God in a significant way, I was struggling with my identity, and I was not very optimistic about the future. God used the Collaborative in my life to deal with all three of those issues.

As I look back on the collaborative, the most significant things God taught me were:


Lisa often says, “You will become the best version of yourself only in community.” Perhaps the greatest benefit of going through the Collaborative is the community you become a part of. I’ve built relationships with leaders in our city that continue to help me become the best version of myself two and half years after I’ve gone through the Collaborative.

I’ve built relationships with leaders in our city that continue to help me become the best version of myself two and half years after I’ve gone through the Collaborative.


We all have strengths and weaknesses and it’s critically important that we become aware of how both our strengths and weaknesses impact the lives of others. The Leader’s Collaborative is tailored to help you become more self-aware.

It’s critically important that we become aware of how both our strengths and weaknesses impact the lives of others.

Self Confidence

During Bruce Bickel’s lesson, he made two statements that significantly impacted me in this area. He said, “Ministry is not a job, ministry is who you are, where you are…” and “If God’s called you to do something, He’s the only one that can stop that from happening.” For so long, I thought my calling and my ministry were based on who I knew, where I worked, and what people thought of me. For the first time in my life, I realized that the fact that I am a child of God and am growing into the person God created me to be is enough. That truth set me free.

Challenging Idols

The Importance of Consistently Challenging my Idols – Prior to the Collaborative, I hadn’t given much thought to the possibility of having idols in my life. As I was receiving feedback during my final presentation, one leader said to me, “Doug, challenge your idols: ministry, health & fitness, marriage, and influence.” As I reflected on that challenge, I realized that I had put all of these things in an improper place in my life. Learning to challenge my idols has been a lesson that has continued to challenge and sharpen me in the years since the Collaborative.

New Ideas

I was recently interviewing a leader and he said, “One of the mistakes I see leaders making is that they keep relearning the same things over and over again. They need to get out of their comfort zone by exposing themselves to content that challenges their thinking.” As I went through the Collaborative, I was exposed to content and influencers that helped me grow and develop to another level both personally and spiritually.

A Vision for our City

I gained a new perspective on having a vision for our cities, and God began dealing with me about my role in reaching our city. As a result, my wife and I established a leadership organization to help develop young leaders in our city for Christ. I do not believe we would have started this organization if it weren’t for the impact the Collaborative had on my life.

Since graduating the Leader’s Collaborative, I feel that I have emerged into a young man who is growing more and more confident in who I am and whose I am.

Lisa often shares this quote, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…” When I started the Collaborative in 2012, I was an insecure and wounded young man. In many ways, I felt like my world was over. However, since graduating the Leader’s Collaborative, I feel that I have emerged into a young man who is growing more and more confident in who I am and whose I am. I believe I am a better worker, a better husband, a better leader, and more like Christ as a result of the Collaborative, and for that I am eternally grateful.

You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need go through the Leader’s Collaborative?” You may be thinking that you have already learned all of the lessons that I learned. My challenge to you is this: I don’t think God wants to teach you the same things he taught me, but I do believe there is something in this experience that God does want to teach you, and just like me, you may not realize the significance of what He has for you until you’re on the other side of this experience. If that is the case, then my question to you is, what are you waiting for?


dougsmithDoug Smith is passionate about adding value to peoples lives and helping them reach their maximum potential. Doug is currently employed by Light of Life as the Manager of Outreach and Major Gifts and founded Learning to Lead, which explores what Christian leadership looks like. Check out Doug’s website,


What it Practically Looks Like to Follow Your Calling

Have you ever heard a talk about calling or vocation and then wondered how to even begin applying it to your life? The conversation on calling and vocation is an important one, but it really starts getting good when we are able to apply it to our daily lives.

We asked Dan Essig to join us at our Leadership Breakfast Series to talk about how his calling to serve the Lord pulled him away from a cubicle to starting his own contracting business, Essig Renovation and Design.



Here are some highlights from Dan’s talk:

  • Dan’s journey to discover what he’s passionate about (2:02)
  • What it took for Dan to take the leap to entrepreneurship (7:23)
  • How Dan is using his management position to help members of his crew use their strengths (18:35)

Dan’s desire to serve God has shown up in every aspect of his work, from the ethics his company takes pride in upholding, to his relationships with his employees and clients. This interview with Dan highlights his passion for his company and his deep understanding of his calling.

Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

100_1325-1024x768Dan is a graduate of Geneva College and an alum of the Pittsburgh Fellows. Dan followed the call to start his own business in the renovation space, and Essig Design and Renovation was born. Dan’s company works in Pittsburgh to build tangible and intangible communities.


What Our Generation Needs

Someone recently asked what our generation needs from pastors and churches. This is my answer:

Understand that we have a lot to grapple with in these times. We’ve grown up with Republican friends and gay friends. We are less moved by rules and meeting standards than we are by grace. We are motivated by passion for social justice and the beauty of God’s love for us; not fear of Hell. We don’t simply hate/fear people who aren’t like us – we’re curious about how we can peacefully coexist with those who believe differently, but if we’re honest, some of this ISIS stuff and the persecution of African Christians scares us a lot and makes us angry. And we want something done, but we hate war. And we worry prayer isn’t enough and sometimes we forget to, anyway.

We are less moved by rules and meeting standards than we are by grace.

We want to see the Church respond quickly and effectively when things like Ferguson happen. We need leadership and guidance in responding well to these outrageous tragedies and subsequent unrest. And we want to help. We want to…be a presence? But we’re also just trying to tolerate the traffic through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, remember to bake cupcakes for our kid’s bake sale, and squeeze in a little cardio so we don’t die when we’re 50.

We’re stressed and busy and tired. There is never quite enough time or money, and we know we shouldn’t worry or fret, but we just have such a hard time relaxing and trusting God. And raising our kids in this world is terrifying. We are pretty sure they will be half-robots by the time they are our age. Half robots who can swim because by then all of the polar ice caps will have melted.

But underneath that, we know God loves us in this crazy unfathomable way. We are pretty sure He’s got this, and it’s going to be ok. Awesome, even. Remind us of how Awesome it’s going to be. Because cancer, violence, and the Squirrel Hill Tunnel make us forget.

Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

JessiMarsh-150x150Jessi Marsh (LC 7) is a nonprofit executive, blogger, and cancer survivor. Check out her blog,