Jan 28, 2020

Calling vs. Career

I recently heard someone talking about their "career" in children's ministry.

I personally don't believe ministry is a career.  I believe it is a calling of God. 

Most people who are in ministry are not in it because they decided to make a "career" of it.  They are in ministry because God did a supernatural work in their heart and ushered in an invitation to give their life to reaching and discipling people. 

That was my case.  When I was 16-years-old, God began to quietly whisper into my spirit that He wanted me to give my life to reaching people.  At first, I said "no way."  That is not something that was on my radar.  And it was definitely not something I wanted to pursue.  But the "calling" continued to pursue me. 

I'll never forget the day I got on my knees and said "yes" to God's call.  I told God I'm going to stop running away from Your plan for my life and start running toward it.  

And if you are called, I am sure you remember God pursuing you for ministry as well. 

Even now, you may sense God calling you to give your life to reaching kids and families.  You may be experiencing a burning bush call from God. 

A career is about the income.  A calling is about the outcome.

A career is you pursuing finances and prestige.  A calling is you pursuing God.

A career comes from your plans.  A calling comes from God's plans.

A career is about climbing the latter.  A calling is about climbing higher in your relationship with God.

A career is about seeing how many people can serve you.  A calling is about seeing how many people you can serve.

A career is about increasing yourself.  A calling is about asking Jesus to increase and for you to decrease.

You can change careers.  But the calling of God is a life-time commitment.

A career is about advancing yourself.  A calling is about advancing the kingdom of God.

Someone once told me if you can do anything else besides ministry, do it.  Get a career and run with it.  But if you are called by God to ministry, you will never be happy or fulfilled doing anything else.  And it's true.  Some of the most miserable people I know are people that ran from the call of God and instead began pursuing a career.

How can you know if you are called?  The Holy Spirit will deal with you if it is a calling.  Everything you do and think about will begin to point toward the calling He is asking you to walk in. 
Like never before, we need children's and family minister leaders who are called by God to give their lives to reaching and discipling the next generation.

Perhaps you are reading this and you God has been calling you to give your life to reaching the next generation.  Don't run from the call.  Embrace it. 

Or perhaps you have grown weary in your calling.  Weary in the well doing that comes with it.  You are just going through the motions.  You have forgotten why you are doing this. When this happens, go back to your calling.  Walk in it.  Serve in it.  Live in it. 

How do you see your ministry?  A calling or a career?

Jan 27, 2020

The Number One Thing Kids and Parents Are Doing at Home Together

Do you know what the number one thing kids and parents do together when they are home?

For Millennial parents and their kids, it's video gaming.

Data from the Fullscreen  company found that parents spend an average of 8.5 hours a week gaming with their children.

Millennial parents grew up with amazing game systems and it has followed them into adulthood and parenthood.

The company says this.  “These new parents were the ones who bolstered growth in the video game industry when they were young, and now they’re passing down a love of gaming to kids,”  To succeed in the coming years, companies are going to want to join the space with new games.”

The bottom line is this.  Kids and parents love playing video games together because it gives them a common, fun experience.

It is noteworthy to think about this and strategize how the church can provide kids and their parents with shared experiences at home and at church.

We often complain about finding "take home" papers blowing in the parking lot or shoved in the trash can at home.  Perhaps the bigger question is this.

How can we create and distribute something that kids and parents will use at home?  I ask this question,  because most churches struggle with tools and resources that parents and kids actually want to engage in at home.

Perhaps it's time to make sure our take home attempts are creative, fun and engaging.  We know why video games are engaging for kids and parents.  But I also know that kids love to play board games, active games and fun games.

What can you create that kids and parents will do together at home?  What games can you create that parents and kids will actually engage with?  What activities can you create that are so fun that kids will beg their parents to play with them at home?

I believe if we want kids and parents to engage with the lesson at home, then we've got to create something that will be engaging.

Your turn.  What discipleship tools are you creating that parents and kids are doing at home?  What are some ideas you have to make home discipleship appealing and doable?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.

Jan 23, 2020

A Great Idea to Get Kids Involved in Worship

One of the key things I often look for in a church is to see if the kids engage in worship.

Especially the 3rd-to-5th grade boys.  The majority of the time they are standing there motionless. 

It can definitely be a challenge at times to get all the kids worshiping.  There are key factors that are involved in the solution. 

We've talked about the "cool rolls downhill" factor.  When the younger kids see the older kids worshiping, they will engage as well.  So you always want to target the 5th grade boys.  Get them singing and everyone else will join in.

But that's the challenge.  How do you get 5th grade boys to sing?  A few factors include how many men or boys are on stage helping lead?  Are the songs geared for them?  Are the older kids sitting up front with the younger kids behind them.  Remember...cool rolls downhill.  If the younger kids see the older kids singing in front of them, they will join in as well.

This past weekend, I was at a church and was observing their elementary worship service.  One of the songs had a really cool, defined beat.  I saw something happen spontaneously.  A few of the 5th grade boys started tapping their chairs in sync with the beat in the song.  Not only did it sound really cool, but the other kids saw what the "big kids" were doing and joined in.  Everyone was engaged...from the youngest child to the oldest. 

I have obviously seen praise teams lead the way, but this time the kids in the audience lead the way with their "home made" drums.

Next time you are leading a kids' worship service, invite the kids to join in by playing their "drums" (chairs). You might be surprised at how many kids get involved for the first time in a long time.

Jan 22, 2020

Why Self-Care is Good Leadership

Did you know that an estimated 300 to 400 doctors will kill themselves this year?

One doctor commits suicide in the U.S. every day.  This is a rate of 28 to 40 per 100,000 which is more than double that of the general population.

This is the highest suicide rate of any profession.  

Doctors who commit suicide often have untreated or undertreated depression or other mental illnesses.

They are so busy helping other people get well, that they don't have time to help themselves get better.  

This trend can also be seen in ministry.  Pastors and other church leaders get so busy helping others that they neglect to care for themselves.  And the result can be devastating.

Several friends I went to college with have fallen into the deep, dark grasp of depression/anxiety and have ended their lives. Over the years, there have been several times when I have also fallen into the depths of depression and have wondered if I would ever get better.  

Thankfully, I made it out alive.  

And one good thing about my depression is that I have been able to help others stay out of its grasp.  

The first time I slide down into the depths of depression was nobody's fault but my own.  I simply didn't lead myself well.  I worked way too many hours.  I didn't go on vacation.  I carried the ministry instead of sharing the ministry.  I had no margin in my life.  And eventually it caught up with me.  I slipped into clinical depression.  Thankfully by the grace of God and a doctor who helped me find out what my problem was, I was able to recover.  

I an know much more diligent to guard my schedule, be aware of when I am getting extremely tired and adjust so I can maintain a healthy lifestyle.  

Self-care is good leadership because without it, you will crash and burn and will forfeit your ability to lead. 

Some who are reading this right now are exhaustedYou have given and given and given, but haven't had or made the time to get into Jesus' presence and Word to re-fill your spirit. You are in a dangerous spot.  

Self-care is the starting point for leading a healthy, balanced life in ministry.  And it it Biblical.  Check out this verse where Paul is talking to a young man in ministry.   

"Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you."  I Timothy 4:16

Notice how Paul said to first watch how you live. Why?  Because you are sharing the Gospel with kids and families.  As you live out the Gospel in a healthy manner, you will model for kids (especially your own kids) how to balance ministry and life.  

Here are a few lessons I learned the hard way when I went through major depression.

Have margin in your life.  Make sure as you lead others, that you leave margin in your life that will enable you to lead your own family first and foremost.

A practical way to do this is to put it on your calendar.  Then when people ask about seeing you or having you do ministry work for them, you can say you already have an appointment during that time.  The appointment is your family or time for yourself.

Realize that you can't effectively care for others if you're not first caring for yourself.  Look back at 1 Timothy 4:16.  It says to first care for yourself.  And then out of that will flow healthy ministry to others.

Understand that you can't save the world.  That job has ready been taken.  You are simply a messenger sharing the good news.

Learn to say "no."  As I mentioned earlier,  put down time on your calendar to care for yourself and your family.  That way, when someone asks for that time, you can share that you already have an appointment. 

Jesus didn't heal everyone.  He often slipped away from the crowds to spent time with His Father.  Most of in ministry are people-pleasers.  We are wired to say "yes" any time there is a ministry need.  Follow the example of Jesus and learn to say no at times.  

Recognize when you are getting tired and make adjustments.  Be self-aware.  Know the warning signs that are pointing you toward burn-out.  Know when you need to pull back and take some extra time off.

Have 2 to 3 people who speak into your life.  People who know you.  People who can see when you are getting tired.  People you've given permission to call you out when you become unbalanced. 

Pace yourself so you can finish strong.  My prayer is that you will be able to say what Paul said at the end of his ministry.

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."  2 Timothy 4:7

Are you struggling?  

Have you been so busy leading and helping others that you haven't adequately led yourself well?

Do you feel like quitting and walking away from the ministry where God has placed you?  

Do you see in your life some of the things I mentioned?  

Get some help.  Reach out to someone you trust. Talk with someone who will be honest with you about your where you are at.  You don't have to go at this alone.  

Be the leader God has called you to be and start with the person He has called you to make a top priority....

Self-care is good leadership. 

If you need more help or tips on self-care, be sure to get my new book "Lead Well."  It will give you the tools you need to care for yourself well.  It's available at this link.  

Your turn.

What are your thoughts about self-care?  Are you struggling?  What do you do to remain in a good place mentally and spiritually?  How do you pace yourself?  

If you need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me via email and we can help you get back to a good place in ministry. 

Being a good leader starts by leading yourself well.