Dan Erwin: Conversational leadership

How to Recognize Someone Is Using You

It was a seemingly innocent question. But actually, he was just using me.

On Easter Sunday, after spending a rare day alone at home, I decided to grab a small bite and a glass of wine at a local pub. Since I would be alone, I took along a book that I intended to finish. A terrific little volume by Mark Edmundson: “The Age of Guilt.”

I sat at the bar, slowly drinking my cab and enjoying a crabcake, all the while reading and marking up this fascinating book. One of the most intriguing and enlightening works I’d read in years.


My reading habits began in elementary school, developed while I was in seminary, blossomed while I was in the pastorate and a seminary faculty member—and exploded in my consulting business. Although I am a lot more than this, I am my books.

I take a lot of time marking my books and papers, and putting notes in the front of the books and also outlining my research papers notes on an added single page, all making important substance available immediately. I’d be much less a person without my books and my studies. No question but that my effectiveness in church ministry, seminary—and especially in business—was tied to a substantially developing knowledge base and—I don’t want to ignore this—an extensive experience in the performing arts that continually shaped and reshaped my decision making.             

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