Daniel Zopoula

The Digital Musings of a Bushman, Speaker, Author & Trusted Advisor.

Author: Daniel Zopoula (page 2 of 4)

Greetings – Christmas Day 2014

Nothing profound to say…Merry Christmas…

Humbly, we welcome a new year of “Goodwill” to ALL people (inclusive). Christmas inaugurates the Goodwill of God, now come to humanity (Luke 2:14).

When we struggle to feed only ourselves, everyone goes hungry. But when we focus on our neighbour’s hunger, we discover there are ways to feed everyone.

Lord, that each of us may find every excuse to extend the generosity, profoundly over extending goodwill to ALL! Even so Lord, let it be !!!!

++ Daniel Zopoula

Ubuntu: We are all connected

Happy New Year!

May this year be for each a season of “Goodwill” to ALL people at ALL places(Luke 2:14). I champion to deliberately find every excuse to extend the generosity, profoundly over-extending goodwill to ALL

As the African Philosophy of Ubuntu teaches us, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” or “I am a person through other persons”. “A single straw of a broom can be broken easily, but the straws together are not easily broken.”

This truly is the essence of being and becoming; you can’t exist as a human being in isolation; you can’t be human all by yourself, you belong.  We are all connected! What you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity. You diminish when others are  diminished, when others are humiliated; you famish when others are famished, when others are tortured and oppressed. This is the year, this is the moment.

The government of fear is over! I am resolved, aggressively, provocatively and deliberately living to enable the community around to improve and become it’s uttermost. When we struggle to feed only ourselves, everyone goes hungry. But when we focus on our neighbour’s hunger, we discover there are ways to feed everyone. The world is my Parish.

No one walks  alone into higher realms. As expressed in the title of the acclaimed, and Number one hit song released in January, 1970, with gospel overtones, and recorded by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, unity is our only “Bridge over Trouble Water.” Without a bridge that leads to unity with others, who will support us through our perilous times, we will fall and sink, hopelessly, into the troubled water.

With unfeigned love, always, still becoming,
++ Daniel Zopoula


The Conduct of a Pastor

…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:2, 3

The Book of Pastoral Rule [1] Gregory the Great (ca. 540-604)

“The conduct of a prelate ought so far to transcend the conduct of the people as the life of a shepherd is wont to exalt him above the flock. For one who estimation is such that the people are called his flock is bound anxiously to consider what great necessity is laid upon him to maintain rectitude.”

Pastors have three tools to employ in the work of shepherding:

    1. The Word of God
    2. Prayer, and
    3. Their personal example (Acts 6:4; 1 Pet. 5:1-3).

The skillful pastor is he who has learned how to use these tools consistently, appropriately, and in a good combination in every situation.

Our work may be informed by other resources beyond these, and we may, indeed, employ such resources in equipping the flock of God.

But they must always be seen as an extension of our personal pastoral tools, especially that of our own example.

MUSE ON THIS QUESTION: Do the people you shepherd see enough of your life to know whether or not they want to be like you in following Jesus?

[1]All quotations are from Gregory, The Book of Pastoral Rule in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 12

On Mental and Spiritual Sobriety

On Mental and Spiritual Sobriety – Musings

I wonder if In the absence of a clear understanding (or revelation) of how God sees those people He so strategically placed in our lives, most of us (thru lack of patience which is a form of anger) mistakenly try to make copies of ourselves into the suffering and afflicted amongst us.

I am learning that before I can help someone deeply, I must first gain spiritual and mental sobriety  by coming under this clear divine understanding of people.

Mandela’s mental sobriety stands out to me in a political dimension

I am moved by 1 Peter 5: 3-11: …..not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you

Refresh Seminar, Southern Saskatchewan District




  1. It is not fair, it is not reasonable, it is not right. Where does all this come from? These are the fruits of sickness and dysfunction. These are the fruits of abuse and poverty.
  2. The question becomes … What do I do with what I have experienced? What do I do with what I am experiencing?
  3. How do I come to understand the affects of all of this upon myself? How can I reshape how I feel and respond to these events and their affects?
  4. How do I learn (and relearn) to manage myself?
  5. A man once said to me that “I have a lot to learn about people”. I have learned that while this is true I also have a lot to learn about myself.
  6. I started with the question: how could I ever have known? Who was around to teach me? Who was committed to try to teach me?
  7. A problem that I have encountered in the church is that some people in it presume to know the answers to these questions. It is my experience that this is a lifelong journey of discovery and I am responsible to do most of this work.
  8. I think the question now becomes “who will walk with me in this journey of discovery and restoration.
  9. What will I do with this strength. How will I invest myself?,
  10. Isn’t all this interesting? Lots of good questions … Who will do the work? Why does this work matter? What will grow out of this work? What will fail to grow if I do not do this work?
  11. Many of us have direct and indirect knowledge of the terrible cost of a failure to  do this work.
  12. Who will I trust to walk with me? Who will say that I have proven myself to be worthy of your trust?….

Many a time we work so hard to cast out the hell  from “in there” to “out there” only to realize that the very hell we try to cast out is only given life, energy and fueled by our demand to um-pluck it out of the depth….You are more than a paragraph, you are the book.

Musings of a Friend

Is silence the worst form of violence?

We hear people speaking about the “silent” treatment in their relationship. I wonder if you have ever experience the power of silence in creating drama, destabilizing relationship and fostering a culture of fear and distrust. The silent treatment can be a very destructive behavior when it involves personal relationships.  It breeds bitterness and anger on both ends. It is a poison, a lethal weapon in breading emotional abuse. From the Book “Crucial Confrontation” we learn that silence is a potent form of violence. So, watch for the manifestation of silence in your relationship and increase dialogue when you see manifestation of it.

Silence episodes include:

  1. Withdrawing – Pulling our of communication completely; physical, emotional, psychological
  2. Avoiding – Staying away from unsafe topics or issues
  3. Masking – understating, sugar coating, sarcasm, selectively showing

Violence episodes include:

  1. Controlling – coercing others through how we share our views – interrupting, overstating, absolutes
  2. Labeling – trying to win or have others give in through ridiculing their ideas
  3. Attacking – making sure others hurt; emotional, physical, psychological

So, what is your story? may be you said so much by not saying anything? what is shaping your relationships? Silence or Violence? Increase diligence and care.



  • “People do not see the world as it is – they see it as they are. A leader needs a broader view.” From the movie Anna and the King
  • “… Since our interpretations hinge on our expectations, beliefs, and values, our internal world is as important as what is outside – sometimes more so, because we manage to see what we expect and want. The fuzziness of everyday life makes it easy for people to make the world conform to their favored internal maps.” Reframing Organizations by Lee G. Bolman and Terrance E. Deal  (p. 33)

If it helps, ask:

  • How does my point of view inform how I hear and understand?
  • How does my point of view take away from how I hear and understand?
  • Are we solving the “right” problem?
  • What does a “win” look like?
  • Confirm what “success” looks like

Create the right space to seek understanding

  • Create space to see from another person’s point of view
  • Create space to listen
  • Create space to wonder
  • Create space to explore
  • Create space to discover
  • Create space to risk

Keep Commitments

  • Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do.
  • Make commitments carefully and keep them.
  • Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor.
  • Don’t break confidences.

Extend Trust

  • Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust.
  • Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.
  • Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved.
  • Demonstrate a propensity to trust.
  • Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  Mark Twain Get some perspective, Get Help

Helpful conflict management attitude Tip-2

Helpful conflict management

  • “Conflict is not bad – badly managed conflict is bad – but worst of all is to deny space for conflict to surface.”

Find ways to discover and safely discuss the “undiscussable”.

Self management Practices

  • Desiring to be at peace with people is a good thing
  • Use conflict as an opportunity to serve others
  • Encourage good practice by personal example
  • Deal only with issues that are too important to overlook
  • Overlook minor offences
  • Guard your attitude from negative thinking

It might be too costly to not settle conflict

  • Consider the cost of continuing conflict verses settling it
    • Emotional, relational, financial
  • Am I guilty of reckless words, gossip or slander?
  • Have I kept my word and fulfilled all of my responsibilities?
  • Have I abused my authority?
  • Have I respected those in authority over me?

Do unto others as you would have it done unto you!

  • Have I treated others as I would want to be treated?
  • Are my motives worthwhile?
  • Am I committed to a healthful relationship?
  • I will listen responsibly by waiting patiently while others speak
    • Clarify through appropriate questions
    • Reflect their feelings and concerns with paraphrased responses
    • Agree with them wherever possible
    • There is great value in the discipline of “seeking to understand before seeking to be understood”
    • It is helpful to confirm rather than presume that you understand
    • It is not enough to just “hear” people – people want to know that they have been heard
    • Effective listening creates an opportunity to build a foundation of trust
  • I will listen responsibly by waiting patiently while others speak…
  • Choose a time and place that will be conducive to a productive conversation
  • Believe the best about others until I have the facts to prove otherwise
  • Talk in person whenever possible
  • Plan my words in advance and try to anticipate how others will respond to me.
  • Use “I” statements when appropriate

Clarity is worth a thousand time more

  • State objectives facts rather than personal opinions
  • Ask for feedback
  • Offer solutions and preferences
  • Recognize your limits and stop talking once you have said what is reasonable and appropriate
  • When possible resolve problems one to one
  • When it is not possible to resolve problems one to one seek appropriate 3rd party support (facilitator, arbitrator)
  • Upon resolution:
  • I will no longer dwell on the incident
  • I will not bring the incident up again and use it against the party
  • I will not talk to others about the incident
  • I will not allow the incident to come between a potential relationship (using appropriate judgment)
  • I will affirm my respect and concern for my opponent.
  • I will do what is right no matter what others do to me.

Helpful conflict management attitude Tip-1

Find ways to discover and safely discuss the “un-discussable”.

  • Create space to see from another person’s point of view
  • Create space to listen
  • Create space to wonder
  • Create space to explore
  • Create space to discover
  • Create space to risk

Helpful conflict management

  • “It is my intention to provoke your thinking.”
  • “It is not my intention to offend you.”
  • “People decide to be offended.”
  • “Please decide not to be offended.”
  • People are responsible to be gentle
  • People are responsible to be forthright
  • People are responsible to challenge ideas
  • People are responsible to detach their self worth from their ideas.

“Conflict is not bad – badly managed conflict is bad – but worst of all is to deny space for conflict to surface.”

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