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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Power of Thumbs & Words

Words matter in our lives.  What is said to us and about us shape us.  From the nurturing words of a mother to a son, the encouragement of a coach to an athlete or acceptance letter from a company to a new people we care about what is said.

In our home we have a phrase we remind each other of often;

WHAT YOU SAY, is as important as HOW YOU SAY IT.

Words, tone, body language, eye contact, emphasized moments and so much more give us layers of communication.  Investing yourself in a person's life, in their conversations & being fully present when you are with them allows healthy relationships to be built.  

Here are images of two text conversations that recently happened in my world.  The affirmation & encouragement in these few words were life filling for me.  What does it look like for us today to speak, text & show the care we have for those around us?

From an 18 year old

From a co-worker & friend

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday, June 06, 2016

Leadership, Learnings & Leverages...thinkings

Leadership: the action of leading a group of people or an organization:...

Leadership has many variations of how it can occur in our lives and the affect it has in our lives.  Many leaders are in the role they are in to lead towards change, create successful stats, complete quotas, excel with company initiatives, achieve quantifiable goals and the like.  Leaders do come in all forms of personalities & certain leadership styles are more contagious than others.  CEO's, Head Coaches, Principles, Area Directors...the list of titles can be unending of the public figures that can receive praise as well as ridicule.

It can seem that the leader(s) that is praised is the leader(s) that receives the most attention.  Certain personality types can be desperate to grasp for the attention given in public settings & their leadership effectiveness is often driven by public praise instead of privately leading well.  
Other leaders are capable of navigating both the public praise while still deferring attention to not just themselves but the group or organization that is working well under their leadership that helps them gain the public praise.

I have come to see, read & experience for myself that leadership isn't as much as What You Do, but in Who You Are.  Character matters a ton

If you are someone that desires to lead are you a learner?  Do you take what you experience, learn from the failures and the successes and leverage it for the next decision?  Do you repeat the same mistakes? 
Do you personalize everything in a closet of thinking or do you seek wisdom from those who have more learnings in areas you lack? 

Is leadership about a platform you are given or a responsibility you have earned?  Leadership takes character and persistence, but what type of character traits do you display?  As you lead is your persistence received as care or chaotic?

All these questions and more fill volumes of books, podcasts & fill up conferences topics.  
Leadership is never-ending classroom.  There are always elements of leadership that needs to change, adjust, alter or adapt to the setting they are in.  

Are you taking what you are learning & leveraging it for healthier leadership?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Put Your Boots On

Random thought the other day while driving.
There is something comfortable about a pair of shoes or boots that "just fit".  The ones you can be in all day and your feet feel like they are as comfortable as can be.  I wear boots for specific purposes and each one has it's purpose...which turned into a leadership thought for me as well.

When we go camping & hiking I have a pair of boots I love to wear.  They are sturdy, make my feet feel great regardless of what we are doing and I know that no matter what type of terrain we encounter I am good to go.  From the crown of the continent in Glacier National Park, to the multi faceted terrain of Yellowstone, to the Granite Peaks of Yosemite, to the rolling hills of the Smokey Mountains and the Big Pine Mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park my boots are trustworthy.
Hiking Boots need to be sturdy & comfortable.  They need to get you to your destination so you can pause & enjoy the scenery.
You need moments in life to enjoy & pause to rest in.  But to get there you need healthy decisions of which trail is worth going on.  It's not just about the end view, it's also the journey getting there.

When the crap gets piled up you need boots to help you dig through it.  Growing up around horses I had work boots that could get crap all over them.  Didn't care what they looked like because they had one role in my life.  To muck a stall that was full of green & brown maggot infested feces.
Yes, sometimes in life you gotta just put on the boots to get a messy job done.  Get after it, get it done. Acknowledge going into the job it's going to suck, but when you are done with that job, you can take off your work boots, get a shower & go dancing.

Yes, growing up wearing a stetson, wranglers & ropers we'd go dancing.  About the only rhythm I've ever had was to the country two step or copying a line dance...but it was still fun.  It's a party.  It's laughter.  It's not really caring what you look like on the dance floor because as long as the one you are dancing with is good with it then there is no care in the world that'll keep you from enjoying the night.
You need to dance in life.  You need to celebrate on a Friday night or a Sunday morning the joy you have to be alive.
Also having a pretty girl to dance with doesn't hurt either!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Juggling Equals Breaking

Since as long as I remember, and before that based on my mom's stories, i have never liked making two trips.

  • Two trips in from the car to the house to carry things
  • Two trips to the trash can
  • Two trips to the grocery store
  • Two trips carrying clothes up the stairs
  • Two trips on almost anything...

I've gotten really good at contorting my fingers to carry as many bags as possible & leveraging as much in my arms (or on my shoulders) as possible.  I have no clue why this began or even what my issues use but I've got a bad habit!

However...there are those moments in my life where;

  • I dropped a gallon of milk because I thought I could grab the last item
  • I dropped all the folded clothes to have to pick them all up & refold all of them
  • I dropped my Full coffee cup, because I didn't want to grab my backpack on a second trip
  • I dropped my iPhone...more than once

You'd think I would have learned my lesson after 36 years of this issue and the consequences, but nope.

Juggling Equals Breaking

Juggling doesn't only happen with carrying physical items.  It also can occur in leadership:

  • Attempting to juggle too many tasks that MUST be done by a deadline and never giving away opportunities to other responsible leaders. 
  • Trying to be all things to all people all the time
  • Worrying incessantly over items that are out of my control
  • Impatience over timelines that cannot be changed regardless how much I try

Juggling Equals Breaking

I can juggle, i learned in college late at night during finals week.  My limit is three items and I can juggle those items for a considerable amount of time.  Each time I've tried to add a 4th or 5th item, the same result happens, I drop everything.
In my life, in my leadership & even in the basic need of bringing in groceries, I can only juggle what I am capable of.  Even in juggling only what I am capable of, if I complete the task & lead well, then it can be a fun and healthy experience.
If I try to do more than what I am capable of, something is going to break.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ministry Transitions -- Family

Two years ago (25 months exactly) we transitioned to a new church, new state, new city, new schools, new community, new micro culture...a lot of new.  Transitions are never flawless and any transition in life brings on challenges & joys.

As a family the transition for us has been challenging at times.  In the totality of the 24 months we've had to rethink life, rhythm of life and keep coming back to the key values that make up our family.  If you going through or have gone through a major move/transition your family will also have to navigate this transition.  There are always going to be the basic aspects of WE GOTTA FIGURE THIS OUT.  
Similarly to
- Where are we going to live? 
- Which school do our kids go to?  Which schools do we want our kids to go to?
- Did we set up our utilities with the right companies?
- Nobody told us about the weird tax laws our new state has & how they work?
- What do you mean driver's license & vehicle license plates takes you to 4 locations to get figured out?

That transition list can be very taxing & overwhelming.  It takes time & it takes consistantly addressing the never ending to-do list.  But there are some other specifics that we've learned that matter a lot more.
While your family is different than mine, I do think some of these key elements can be used an applied to any family processing through a transition.

Rhythm & Space
We are family that likes making sure we own our calendars & our calendars do not own us.  We are intentional with our use of time & planning out our months.  In any transition your family needs to have a rhythm & space to process.  To do this well your family needs to know who they are & what makes them thrive.  Trying to find living space & play space that worked for our family was really hard.  Which meant trying to establish our rhythm went out the window.  We found ourselves grasping for both and it wasn't easy.  But staying focussed to pursue both, consistently, has allowed us to learn how to adapt.  For some families a week, or a month or a year is a lot of time when it feels like life is constantly crashing and chaotic, but slowly as the spinning stops you being to see clearly a little. Find for your family how that can be in a space & rhythm that works.

Quantity & Quality Time
Setting up consistent, quantity moments with your kids, your spouse and even the dog are needed.  These are touch boys to how people are doing.  They CANNOT become checking on bills, dealing with issues and crisis management.  They NEED to be nurturing, caring, laughter filled and fun pursuing times.  Your kids need help processing the elements of the transition they are going through and as a couple you need to know how to care for one another.  Be ridiculous with your calendar of scheduling Quantity Time together.  Be creative! Go Simple. Try something new or go with what is tried & true.  But don't skimp on your family needs.

Maps & Time Zones
Where is the grocery store? We need a mechanic? What hospital does our insurance work at?  These questions can create significant moments of frustration when you feel clueless.  We noticed we spent a lot of time with google maps when we first moved just to get a bearing on where to go.  But, just finding where to go wasn't enough as we had to learn when we were allowed to go there, time zones.  I'll never forget pulling into a Target at 930pm and they were closed.  Where we moved from Target was open till 1030pm.  Easter Sunday we observed parking lots were empty cause certain business closed down for the day...that was new to us.  And when we needed to get groceries cause we hadn't shopped yet for the week, well lets just say that was an interesting Easter Dinner.  There were several learning curves of when and how our local area operated with maps & time zones.

I will say this is THE MOST important aspect of your family going through a transition.  Hold onto the identity that is true and healthy.  Kick out anything that would want to hi-jack your families identity! Who is your family & where are you going?  If this isn't a question you've ever thought about I might say major transitions will be very hard to thrive through.  Surviving for many families is easy.  You go through the motions, check off the to-do list and live in monotony.  But to thrive as a family that is focussed on health with pursing Christ's kingdom you have to know Who you are & Where you are going?

This isn't a geographical question but a strategic, Kingdom blessing as a family question. How are you living out God's Story in your family?  How are you pursuing being a blessing to others through your family?  What makes your family unique in this world?  How to the individuals of your family, whom are individually created by God, add to the overall story your family is living?  In what ways does your family actively find ways to serve, love, care, share, engage & bless the world you live in?
These, and more, are all questions we have been processing since our family began. We have to keep coming back to these, because Who are Family is and Where we are going matters greatly to our Identity.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Transitions -- Ministry Implications

Two Years ago (25 months as of this post) we transitioned to a new church, new state, new city, new schools, new community, new micro culture...a lot of new.  Transitions are never flawless and any transition in life brings on challenges & joys.

Several people in the last few months have asked how things have been for us as a family as well as I've had a few new youth workers ask me how to transition well.  Several of them are getting ready to go into full time ministry after being part-time or leaving one ministry setting & moving to another.  

Over the last 24months of my transition there are several key leadership principles I've applied as well as youth ministry leadership foundational principles we've instilled and those are definitely worth writing about.  But as I've shared these are four elements that keep coming up in conversations and as I have looked back, definitely elements that I've tried to do well.  While each setting is uniquely different, I think these carry over anywhere.

Evaluate Clearly --
I sat for 5 months before making any significant changes to the ministry and in that time tried to be a learner of the nuances, health & rhythm the ministry had.  I asked a lot of questions of students, leaders & key staff that I was working with.  The last thing I wanted to do was come in with a sledgehammer ready to remodel when the people involved in the ministry had never even thought a remodel was necessary.  I wanted to be able to clearly show not only the WHY we needed some adjustments but also HOW the adjustments were going to happen.

Names, Names & Names --
I am not always the greatest at remembering names.  It was really embarrassing asking the same students their names even after a few months of being around the ministry.  Regardless the size of the ministry I had to really focus on remembering the names of students & leaders.  This was a big deal to me because I wanted it to communicate care as their pastor.

Ministry Events --
Momentum occurs when Ministry Events happen and people enjoy their experiences. It's is easy to see that People gravitate towards atmospheres of acceptance.  The events we have planned and created for students, parents, families & leaders I have tried to lead with this truth in mind.
We've created new events, raised the level of excellence of how events occur, reformatted how we communicate what is happening & the list goes on.  We want to make as many "wins" for our students & families as possible.  The key was we got busy and not to be "busy" but to be effective leveraging key points in the lives of our students & families to point them to the Cross.

Developing a Team --
I spent a lot of time in the 1st year with focussed efforts & energies to help create a clearer volunteer base as well as job descriptions.  I wanted our leaders who serve students to know exactly what is expected of them as well as how to do it.  Recruiting, training, meeting, talking, eating, hiring, removing, praying & leading teams is not easy & transitions take time.  But each week has been another chance to help move people forward.  This has been & still is the most challenging aspect of the transition for our ministry but the gains we've made have been really healthy.

What’s next?
The past two years has been working on taking steps towards health for our ministry and now we're going to work on taping some leaps.  The ministry areas we are going to take some leaps from is because we have a solid platform to jump from, a solid team to work with & some key ministry "wins" behind us to leverage.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Helpful Hints for Dads

In April our church hosted a day long event for our men.  I was asked to record a quick clip speaking directly to the dads of how they can be encouraged to talk to their kids about life & sexuality.