Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Time Out

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I’ve put myself on a blogging time out for a while.  With my new son at home now and my workload increasing as I head into the winter months I want to be as intentional as possible about my life and the time that I spend with what really matters.

I’ll be back here some day.  Just not today or tomorrow…

Until then, enjoy your life!

Acorns Help Me

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I spent part of my afternoon hand-picking acorns out of my lawn.  I could have raked them up.  I could have ignored them, let them get tracked into the ground, sprout a little oak tree in the spring and then mow them over.  Instead I chose to slow down a bit today and pick acorns, lots of acorns, out of my lawn.

In this fast paced, get everything done at once, I need it now world – sometimes we need to be intentionally slow and focused in order to restore balance to our lives.  It’s why I have recently been seen watering my lawn with a hose in my hand instead of using a sprinkler.  It’s why my daughter’s can count on me to read their favorite Shel Silverstein book at bedtime with all of my made up voices.

What do you need to do to slow down and regain true focus in your life?

She Makes Me Smile…

…and maybe shed a tear or two.

IMG_4798My oldest daughter, Megan, had a school assignment that required her to write an autobiography and type it out on the computer. Since I am the technically minded one in our home I had the responsibility of hooking up the rarely used printer and getting her a hard copy to turn in for her class.

Before printing her paper I read through what she wrote. She knows exactly how to choke up her old man.

I have a fun family. My family is made up of Mom, Dad, Makenna, me, and a little brother, Noah (on the way). My mom is fun and cool she has honey colored hair and blue eyes. My dad is funny and he always has time for me. His hair is dark brown almost black. He has dark brown eyes and a few freckles. Makenna has dirty blond hair, freckles, and brown eyes.

I’m not posting this to get a pat on the back from any of you who may read this. However, may it encourage you to spend quality AND quantity time with your families. It’s worth it!

Open Letter To Parents

Dear Parents,

I understand over the past couple of days some of you have been encouraged by the things that I have been writing to teenage girls and boys.  I am thrilled that you have enjoyed my letters.  Today I want to take a few moments and write directly to you.  My desire in writing this letter is to help support you and maybe even share some insight with you that I have gained from working with teenagers for the past 12 years.  I will begin with a disclaimer however, and let you know that I DO NOT have all the answers.  I am a parent of a 5 & 10 year old.  I’m still working very hard to figure out what I am doing most days…

One source of wisdom that I attempt to draw from daily is the Bible.  As I read the Bible I gain understanding of how we (all of us – children, adults, all of us.) work, live and hopefully thrive in this world.  One verse that I hear many parents  refer to as I speak with them is Proverbs 22:6, which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  One of the mistakes that parents make with this verse is that often times I see the training end somewhere around age ten or eleven.

In my role as a Youth Pastor I have had many parents ask me to disciple their teenager.  I hear often that they, the parents, just don’t know what to do with them.  They don’t know how to respond.  They don’t know what to say.  They feel helpless and don’t know where to turn.  I find great hope in this Proverb.  I take it to heart every time that I speak with one of my daughters.  I trust that the seeds that I am planting in their lives will one day flourish and grow.  I am keenly aware that I need to be present in my daughter’s lives.  They need me and their mother to help guide them while they are young.  Your kids need you to help them make good decisions.  That means that you need to be going to the source of true wisdom yourselves.  You can’t lead people where you aren’t going…

mom_yelling_at_daughterGuiding my children is my role.  At some points I would even use the word control.  As they are young I do have the control in the decisions that are made.  As they grow that control becomes less and it transforms more into a shepherding role.  I give a bit more freedom in order to allow them some room for failure while still having the safety of Mom and Dad around to help them when they do choose poorly.  My role as a parent, your role as a parent needs to be a continual process from cradle to grave.  While the role does change, it is critically important that you protect your relationship with your children so that you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their lives.  This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by balancing discipline with love.

In dealing with teenagers I see far too many parents who have transformed their role of parent to more of a friendship.  Hear me on this subject, please.  They have enough friends.  They NEED parents.  Strong parents.  Parents that love them enough to say the hard things.  Parents that are less concerned with being told, “I hate you mom.  You never let me have any fun!” and more concerned with seeing their son/daughter grow into a healthy adult.  If you don’t like the clothes they are wearing make them change.  I addressed the subject of modesty with the girls the other day.  You should be helping them understand boundaries in what is appropriate to wear and what is not.  If Sally so and so is wearing it and that is the reason they give you for wanting to wear it as well you can always say what my mother said to me – “If Billy jumped off a bridge would you follow him?”  Sounds cliche but I think it’s time to get back to basic parenting.  Speak up.  Stand up.  Do the right thing even when it gets uncomfortable.

What’s more uncomfortable –

  • Enforcing the rule that they won’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex or sitting in your living room as your 15 year old daughter tells you that she is pregnant?
  • Taking a stand for what your daughter will wear and won’t wear or working through the pain of rape?

If you have a son you aren’t off the hook on this one.

  • Would you rather speak into your son’s life and enforce that they drive responsibly or get the call from the Highway Patrolman informing you that there has been an accident and there was nothing that the paramedics could do?
  • Would you prefer to keep your son from dating the girl that you know is only motivated by one thing or watch your son drop out of school to get a job to provide for the life that he helped create?

Here’s one –

  • Would you rather keep the liquor in the house for those “special occasions” when family comes over or deal with your kid being a closet alcoholic, who drinks themselves to sleep each night?

teenSome things in our lives are not comfortable.  Deal with it.  Be the parent that you kid so desperately needs.  Protect them but don’t baby them.  Your kid won’t always get their way in life.  Help them to understand that.  They won’t always make the varsity team, get the starring role, or make honor role.  Help them understand that life really isn’t fair – but it’s still worth living!  Above all model a life that is lived well.  You cannot expect your kids to learn principles that you are not willing to model for them.  Your kids should not be held to higher standards than you hold for yourself.

Raising kids is not easy.  No one ever said t would be.  You will make mistakes.  I share with the teenagers that I minister to that not one of them were born with an instruction manual.  While it would be great if one would pop out somewhere between their delivery and the placenta; it doesn’t work that way.  With that knowledge they need to cut you, their parents, some slack.  You won’t always get it right as you work to raise them well.  But don’t let your failures overshadow their lives.  Work hard at being the best parent (again, I’ve already said this but hear me again – PARENT, not friend) that you can be.  And know that there are people that are praying for you.  I pray for every parent of every student that is part of my ministry.  I want to do all that I can to partner with you, encourage you and resource you.

Now go and do it.  Do it well…


Finishers

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Back in August I preached a series on Influence at GCC.  The final message spoke on the subject of being faithful to complete the things that you have committed to.  Here’s a snippet of the message:

I believe whole-heartedly that we are in a room full of people who have had a hard time finishing things in our lives because we have never fully experienced the joy of crossing a finish line in our lives.  I experience this as a pastor.  We are continual works in progress.  The work of a pastor is never done.  Until we cross the finish line of life there is always more for God to do in us.  As one who has a heart to see people grow and walk in step with Jesus I acknowledge that my work will never be done.  Just as I need to grow, there is more that I can do to help many of you grow.  There are days when this calling feels like burden.  I’d love for a day when I can close up my computer and feel as though the work is done.  A day when the task is over and the project is complete; but when you deal with human beings, the work is never done.

I think that is why I have become a runner.  In a race there is a definitive starting line and finishing line.  There is an end to the run.  There is a sense of accomplishment to the work that you have been doing.  I told you all a few weeks ago that in May I ran my first half-marathon.  I ran it with my good friend Jeff Cerow.  He had my back the whole way through the race.  We set the pace for the each other.  We encouraged each other throughout the 13.1-mile run.  And we finished the race together.  I can still remember the rush of emotion that came over me as I crossed the finish line.  It is an experience that I will cherish.  I accomplished something that day and I believe I also broke a trait of not finishing things.

I’d like to make this same opportunity available to you all.  On September 11 at 5:30 the Friendly Kitchen is hosting a 5K Trail Race over at NHTI.  I want to challenge each and every one of you to participate in this.  As of right now we have the entire staff of GCC on board for this race.  I want you all to join us.  It is a fundraiser and will go towards a cause that we as a church already support and volunteer at.   There are registration forms at the tables by the doors as you leave later today.  You have over a month to train.  A 5K is just over 3 miles.  You can do this.  I believe that not only can you do this but also some of you NEED to do this.  You need to cross a finish line and experience the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with it.  I believe that for some of you there will be a spiritual breaking that takes place as you commit to training and running in this race.

That was the challenge that I posed to the congregation of Grace Capital Church.  That was 6 weeks ago.  Yesterday, Friday, September 11, sixty people from Grace Capital Church ran in the Friendly Kitchen 5k and FINISHED something.  I truly believe that something spiritual took place for each person as they crossed the finish line.  For some people it was their first ever race.  For others it was just another run.  For all it was a chance to finish something that they put their mind to and they did just that.  I, for one, am very grateful for the showing of GCC runners and am very proud of each of them!

Great job TEAM GCC!

The Healthcare Debate

A friend reminded me of some great wisdom on healthcare and I think it really sums up my thoughts on this whole healthcare debate.  President Obama should really think about this with this new information…

In the wild, there is no health care. In the wild, health care is, ‘Ow, I hurt my leg. I can’t run. A lion eats me. I’m dead.’ Well, I’m not dead. I’m the lion. You’re dead. — Dwight Schrute

DwightSchrute

Daddy Date

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Tomorrow brings the first Friday of the new school year.  Which also brings the first Daddy Date of the new school year that I will have with Megan.  Two years ago I was convicted by God in the amount of time I spent with my daughter.  I clearly heard God speak to me and say, “If you want to be able to speak into your daughter’s life when she is 15, 20 and 30 years old you need to start speaking into her life now.”  At that time she was 8 years old.  This will start the third year that Megan and I have had a non-negotiable, can not be rescheduled Daddy Date on Friday mornings.  I love it.  It’s on my calendar for every Friday morning and NOTHING is allowed to get in the way of that time with her.

I love our times together.  We spend time eating donuts, drinking coffee (she gets a hot chocolate) and talking about everything and nothing at all.  Some mornings we just watch the pigeons outside eating crumbs on the ground and laugh at how silly they walk.  Other mornings we talk about school, her dreams about the future, and what we might do that weekend.  The point is less about the conversation that we are having and more about the fact that she knows that she is important to me and there is nothing that will get in the way of our special time together.  I want her to know that she will always have direct access to me and part of how I communicate that truth is by spending this time with her.  It’s also the reason why our Administrative Assistant knows that if my wife or either of my kids call me that no matter what I am doing, their calls get put through to me.

This year Makenna also has started school and I am thrilled that we will now begin this tradition together as well.  Makenna will get Saturday mornings and we will most likely end up at McDonald’s for cinnamon rolls – she likes them better than donuts and I always leave it up to the girls to name our place of meeting.  I’m excited for this new year.  I am thankful that my girls look forward to this time with me.

My prayer is that they always will…