Thursday

The Word That Can Change Your Life & Ministry


I get asked the same question every day. It may be a text or a snapchat or a real time sentence spoken from from a friend. People want to know.

'Sup?
How are things going?
What are you doing tonight?
What's the plan?
Are we doing something later?

Go ahead.
Check your texts.
I’ll wait.
You've got a few don't you?

I think there's a good reason to ask about "doing".
What you’re doing usually says a lot about what you care about.
And what you care about is usually what you’re going to give your time to.

So, when a friend asks, what are you doing tonight?
They are wanting to know what you care about, what you are needing to do,
and if there’s room in your life to care about what they are doing/ caring about/ needing to do. And usually, they would like for you to join them.

I would say--in the many roles we have in ministry--it’s easy to get sidetracked by things--
all sorts of asks. It's not that they're not important. Because they might be. But there are some things that may be more important for others than they are for you.

Nod you're head if you're tracking.

It’s easier to check an Instagram feed than to go to a kids school for lunch.
We'd rather send an email to our leaders (real quick) than to train a leader to lead leaders (takes time). Even though face-to-face relationships are a priority. Even though leaders are the heart of our youth ministry. We find ourselves exhausting our time and resources avoiding the things that are most important to the vision, strategy, or life of our work.

It’s great to figure this out. Even better to find a way to fix it.
Fixing it means accepting a new way and abandoning an old way.

The default way that leads to distracted leadership can be summed up in a word: DELAY.

We have to make a decision to change from delaying what's important to doing what's important.

Instead of delaying that phone call.
We do it. We pick up the phone and commit to getting it done.

Instead of delaying the planning of the next quarter calendar--we map out the calendar. We put the time into making it happen. It isn't a course in astro physics. It's more like a basic understanding of cause and effect relationships. I'm pretty sure my teacher in the third grade explained it well. There are many moments in the life/ work flow that I need the reminder that things get done when we put effort into doing them. Crazy to think that I'd forget something like that, but I do.

That's why I’m not saying it’s easy. But I am saying it can be done.

I replace the temptation to delay what I do, with a commitment to do what I do.
I set goals every day.

If you know why you do what you do.
Then you’ll want to do what you need to get done to do it.
Maybe backing up to answer the "why" will help you with the desire that makes doing possible.

I picked up something from Donald Miller’s storyline productivity schedule that is helping me do this at this point in my journey. It's a question that I ask myself right away, every day, before my feet hit the floor in the morning, “if I could live today over again, I would….”

Asking that question at the beginning of the day helps me decide to do the things that I might be tempted to delay.

I will spend time on the floor with my kids.
I will take care of that project that matters to me.
I will finish painting my child’s bedroom.
I will rest and reward myself.
I will make that decision that I’ve been putting off.
I will go for a walk.
I will Instagram things that I like, not things that I think other people will like.

We can change the way we work by deciding to DO what needs to be DONE.
Let's start today.
Let's abandon delay.

"Whatever your task, put yourself into it, as it's DONE for the Lord and not for any other..." *Colossians 3:23 

*BLT, Brooklyn Lindsey Translation

Monday

How Angela Ahrendts Is Leading Me In Youth Ministry || 10 Leadership Qualities


Want to get to know the woman behind your apple products?
I did. I wanted to get to know her and thanks to a story featured in Fast Company, I was able to do just that--in a small way at least. Maybe someday, I'll get to go to her office with her because I'd really love that. But for now, I'm just really happy someone listened to her story and wrote it down for us.

Her name is Angela. She's one of the most
polished, tenacious, creative, and well respected VP's on the planet.
I love that she's a wife, a mother, a thought leader, and an entrepreneur.

I think we have a lot to learn from her--and her 20 billion dollar company.

I first became acquainted with Angela Ahrendts through an article that I read in Fast Company magazine. It took me a few days to get through the article because it seemed at every paragraph there was something for me personally. Something I needed to dwell on and discover (or recover in some cases) in my own leadership style. I had to sleep on it and mull it over. I think this particular magazine holds the record for "longest time spent in my tote".

Angela transitioned from CEO at Burberry, a place that she brought to life with experiential shopping experiences and viral social media campaigns, to Apple who from the start had fallen in love with her collaborative spirit.

There's a word.
Collaborative.

I want to pause there.
Can we be more collaborative in our leadership?
I want to think so.
I also have failed at this before.
I have tried to get a job done in my own strength.
That's pride.
That's a mistake.
It's just flat out stupid.
That's the "I can get this done faster if I just do it myself" mentality that will cripple the creativity and longevity of my ministry and of yours too.

So, we need to get a grip on that.
Stat.

And there are other things. Things that Angela does that we can learn from and try to do better in our roles as advocates for the love of Christ in our world.

I want to show you a side-by-side. What her choices look like for her companies (VP perspective) and what those same choices could look like for our ministries (YP perspective).

VP Quality #1

Compassion. Humility. It's saying "thank you".
Fast Company tells the story of a compassionate leader who doesn't shy away from a genuine care and concern for others. She acknowledges when others do things that benefit the company or other people around them. She is a mirror becoming compassion and reflecting it too.

YP Quality #1

Compassion. Humility. Saying "thank you".
This way of life and leadership is not only possible for us--but desired of us. When ministry chaos increases. We can be tempted to forget acknowledging those who help us, those who serve us, and those who need us. We have the greatest opportunity in our own homes, in our offices, and with our volunteers and lay leadership.

VP Quality #2

Angela is a conversationalist who listens more than she speaks.

YP Quality #2

It may seem hard to do this, especially if you're the main communicator in your ministry. But with a little effort, this reality can switch. The more we listen, the more we will understand. As we understand, we will feel more compassion. Compassion and passion are tied together--if we are truly "suffering with" or having empathy for or walking in solidarity with those around us--nothing will stop us in our creativity to connect, create, and lead well.

VP Quality #3

The VP at apple asks lots of questions.
She puts herself in other people's positions.
She listens.

YP Quality #3

The youth pastor waits. Observes. Listens. The focus shifts to others.
She puts herself in other people's positions.
She listens and listens and feels what's happening.
Then she leads the way.

VP Quality #4

She believes empathy is one of the greatest creators of energy.
There is a knowledge that this kind of creators of energy will feel counterintuitive because it's selfless.

YP Quality #4

He puts self to the side daily. He understands that it may not feel natural to empathize because it's a learned behavior, a replacement done by the work of the Holy Spirit--so we ask for help and we look for ways to create energy with genuine empathetic responses.

VP Quality #5

VP's take an Alice In Wonderland class in college. Joking. But you might think it. Angela is a curious leader. She asks, "why are we doing this"? "What is new?" "What would this look like if we didn't have limitations."

YP Quality #5

Youth leaders become curious and curiouser.
We walk into rooms, into planning, into conversations with eyes wide open.
We are the great question askers. We imagine what could be as we ask "why" and "why not?" What would lives look like if we made this change? Or took this risk? Or said no to some things? Or said yes to some big things?
The greatest question of my undergrad career, posed by my friend and professor Rick Ryding was, "why do you do what you do when you do it" and we have to keep asking that question.

VP Quality #6
Negativity isn't found in Angela's intensity.
She isn't a pressure leader. She is a possibility leader.
She shares big news with her team first. She thinks of them before she thinks of herself.

YP Quality #6
She is full of positivity. Even when changes are needing to be made. Even when things don't go as planned. Even if the tide shifts in an unexpected direction, she looks into the future with God's potential in her pocket. She is living the great commandment to love God and love others with the same intensity. If that is her goal, she will struggle to be negative in anything she does. Because she will be less than we in her mind.

VP Quality #7

Angela usually has one main message. It's "thank you."
She'll do a weekly video update to her large team.
She will treat it as just as important as a meeting with high level execs.

YP Quality #7

Youth Pastors spend a lot of time working on and preparing for those times when we get to communicate with our leaders. We get creative. We send videos. We make it easy for them to hear from us. We say thank you. Again and again.

VP Quality #8

She puts a project before her team.
Occasionally, at Burberry, Angela would make a request.
"If you make a personal call to one customer today, if you all do this, we all win."

YP Quality #8

The youth pastor knows her top priority.
She focuses her team and her students on that by giving them something to do.
She inspires meaningful cooperation and participation because she sees the win and sees
the win being accomplished together.

VP Quality #9
She has a routine--a pattern for alone time.
No leader can lead on empty.
For Angela, it's reading, a bath before work, rest and focus.
It's time spent in the pages of Maya Angelou and John Maxwell.

YP Quality #9

The youth pastor makes space every day to recover for some time.
To pour out requires equal pouring in.
All of us have different nozzles for the filling.
Mine is exercise, being outdoors, reading, listening to music.
It's time spent in the pages of The Gospels, in the book of James, with Kathy Escobar, Gary Haugen, Tsh Oxenreider, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Donald Miller, Reggie Joiner, and Michael Hyatt.

VP Quality #10

Her job is to be a brilliant brand ambassador. She doesn't sell.
Her vocation is to build and amazing brand experience that
brings natural effects.

YP Quality #10

Youth ministry isn't about selling Jesus. It's about seeing Jesus and knowing Jesus and doing everything we can to be an ambassador in experiences built around Jesus. It's a vision to create an environment that champions spiritual formation and family. As we do this we advocate for the church and continue to be the messangers of God's good Story that we were called to be committed to from the start. Created in God's image and bearing it---we become the experience and we share it with others. The natural side effects are too many to count.

What can you learn from the successful people around you?





Friday

Brownwyn & Brooklyn // 2 Things I needed to move forward from fear.


The view that day.
When I’m afraid, I’ll cover myself with feathers and hide. (Said nobody, ever.)
A more realistic look at a fearful situation might look something like this. When I’m afraid I’ll act disinterested. I’ll get suddenly tired or sick. I may miss my alarm and wake up late. Oops.

This is how I feel every time I get a chance to go surfing.
I’m not afraid of the things that you might guess

Shark attacks, for example.
Meh.

Jellyfish stings.
Whateves.

Sharp reef or rigid rock poundings.
No big deal.

Suffocating in seaweed.
Worse things could happen.

These are all valid concerns for anyone going for a dip in an ocean. But nothing terrifies me more than cold water.

That’s right, cold water.
I’m a wuss when it comes to cold water. Sharks, rocks, reef, stings, all of these things are probable but cold water is inevitable. It’s shocking. It takes your breath away.
It’s been the thing that has kept me from going out in the water for years. I have a board. I have an ocean. I have a solid surfer husband. But if the weather isn’t blazing hot and the water temp isn’t warm/ tropical/ bath-like…I stay on the beach, wishing I had the guts to get out there.

One time, I ended up at one of my favorite places on earth, on the beach in San Diego, on my birthday. It wasn't planned. But it could have been the best birthday surprise that I can remember. 
My husband and our friends were surfing a fun little break in California--while I stood on the beach watching. It was still the best day ever, even if I wasn't in the water.

Then, I met a girl named Brownwyn.

Brownwyn was a senior at Point Loma, with a generous heart. She and her friends walked up out of the water and onto the beach and I asked her if she wanted to take a crazy person surfing.

We were strangers but I felt like we were friends because she could do something that I wanted to do someday and because they were smiling. Smiling is an instant qualifier for friendship in my book.

After we talked and I shared my irrational fear of cold water. She told me to come by her apartment sometime. She would let me borrow her wet suit and her board. She also told me she’d go with me.

They next day when the guys snuck away to go surfing I had them drop me off at her house. I had to do it. Or at least give it a try. I knocked on her door and hung out with her. She was one of the nicest people--her friends too. How weird was I?! But I was going to go for it. I put on her suit (she is about 5’4…I’m 5’11 so there may have been some pulled muscles just stretching it to fit me). 

We hiked down the cliff, scaling the rocks with our boards, to the place where my husband and friends were in the water.

Once we reached the beach.  She walked right in and paddled out.
I followed. Like a puppy trusting it’s owner, I walked into the unknown.
The surprise. I wasn’t cold.
The shock. I wasn’t fearful.

We paddled out in between sets like I’ve been doing it my whole life.
It seemed too easy.
Her confidence spilled over into my day and I caught a wave.
It was almost too much for me. And I started thinking about what the difference was between now and then--the then when I wouldn't get in.

All of this time had passed and one little thing stood between me and those waves.

Protection.

A wet suit was all I needed and a friend to guide me in….

I’m sure you’ve been afraid before. You may be fearing something now. That test. That text message. That weekend with your stepfather. The girl at school. The feelings of anxiety. The next game. The next opponent. The ridiculous assignment. The “what ifs” and the “why nots”. The unexpected. The unpredictable. That choice. The weird sound coming from your car when you drive it.

I’m sure you’ve decided that you’re better off avoiding the source of your fear (for me cold water) because who wants to see someone taking cover, running for your life, freezing to death, being made to look scared?

So we avoid, instead of doing the thing that is best for us. 
Taking cover, getting protection, then moving forward.

We spend more time thinking about what we'll do next weekend than we do planning our life today. That day, I planned my day by finding what I needed to take the next steps. In that moment, it was protection and friendship.

Where does our protection come from? For a surfer it comes in a seal like suit. Some wear hoodies an booties, for the extra icy temperatures.

For us, in our every day- just living life lives, protection looks like the Word of God. It looks like friends who get our fears but don’t let us drown in them. They look a lot like Brownwyn who calmly led me out to what she knew I could do once I had been prepared.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”  Psalm 91:4-6

Give God your fears.
Ask that he cover those fears with his feathers.
Rest under his wings away from the thoughts that hold you captive.
His unchanging faithfulness will guard you.

Nothing will cause fear in that place of protection.
And know that that place of protection goes with you, it’s not a secluded alone in your room place or hidden in a cave or stuck under a rock, that place of protection, like a wet suit of warmth, goes with you as you go, as you trust, as you dive into deep waters that yes, could harm your life and your limbs. But the fear will not keep you from taking those courageous steps that can bring you to life again. Go together, with a friend, with someone who also trusts in that same protection. He or she will be a reminder that can do this. You don’t have to be afraid.

God, I pray for those who feel sad or afraid right now. Give them a wet-suit. Give them a friend. Remind them that you're right there with them, right now, right with. 

Monday

A March Madness Reflection

there aren't any words.

only this video.

and a few shining moment tears.

(you're welcome. i am happy to bring you relevant and grammatically correct videos for your youth ministry environment. proceed with your best john wall with thanksgiving in your heart.)

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