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On the road again, Yep that is what we are doing.

Ever since we had our first child 15 years ago my wife and I have looked forward to the time when we could finally have God tell us, “This is it, put your tent stakes down deep because you are done moving.”

We thought for sure this was it! We were so sure that we bought our first house. We turned our yard from weeds to thick green grass.
green yard

We tore down our small deck to have a larger one built.
larger house deck

We even installed a new kitchen faucet that fits our families personality more than the plain silver on that was there.

Many more changes as well. The bottom line is we thought we were done.
” You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14

For a moment we forgot the above scripture and felt we knew for sure what our futures looked like. We were certain that we had discovered what our future looked like. This life we were making so many plans about, we have discovered were not the complete plans of God for our family. He has taken great care of us while we were here, and we know He will continue to do so as we obediently follow His plans to another place for our family.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.
Proverbs 16:9

We are no longer on staff at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, MO. Ending our season there did not come easy, but was confirmed by us and our senior pastor. It feels as if God is calling us to a little stronger degree of faith in Him as this is the first time we have stopped at a church and did not have the next one lined up to go to. Sheffield gave us this current month of pay and insurance and then it will be done. Our friendship with many of the people and the senior pastor will continue though. That we are greatly for.

We need to keep in mind that God will go before us. And in this very scary time we remember that God is good. He never disappoints.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 New Century Version (NCV)
39 I will make them truly want to be one people with one goal. They will truly want to worship me all their lives, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

40 “I will make an agreement with them that will last forever. I will never turn away from them; I will always do good to them. I will make them want to respect me so they will never turn away from me. 41 I will enjoy doing good to them. And with my whole being I will surely plant them in this land and make them grow.”

Advancing with Vision and Strategy part 1


I cannot tell you how many meetings on Vision and Strategy I have been in and the result amounted to nothing. Too often the steps to connect vision are not discussed or understood by anyone. The items discussed in the meeting never take part in becoming part of the people culture. I want to break this down into 3 basic but clear steps over the next couple blog post.

Step One: Compelling vision with a deadline.
A vision must be connected to goals. The vision is a desired future, while a goal is a time based and measurable view of that vision.

A great example of this is the often used John F. Kennedy having a vision of the United States moving ahead of the Russians in the race to the moon. It was a vision that would result in technical and intellectual superiority but also prove that capitalism and democracy beats communism!

It was a vision with a deadline. Kennedy wanted to send a man to the moon and bring him safely back home by the end of the 1960s. The vision was compelling. It was something never done before, but beyond the vision, there was a deadline that served to create a sense of urgency. A dream alone is inspiring. A deadline alone can make you sweat. But, together, they can work magic.

So, in your vision, can you create goals that bring energy to the inspiration? How can you create deadlines that give urgency to the cause that creates motivation for your current volunteers and potential new volunteers?

Martin Luther King Jr – Did you know

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. Here are some things about King that you may not have known.

1. In 1964, King became the second African American—and the third black man—to win the Nobel Peace Prize

2. A decade before he was assassinated, King was nearly stabbed to death in Harlem when a mentally ill African-American woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. He underwent emergency surgery, and remained hospitalized for several weeks but made a full recovery. The doctor who performed the operation said, “Had Dr. King sneezed or coughed the weapon would have penetrated the aorta. . . . He was just a sneeze away from death”

3. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by the #277 man on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. In 1967, James Earl Ray escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary by hiding in a truck transporting bread from the prison bakery. After being convicted for the murder of King Ray was sentenced to 99 years in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. In 1977, Ray became the #351 on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list after he and six other convicts escaped from the prison. He was recaptured three days later and given another year in prison, bringing his sentence to 100 years.

4. While much of King’s philosophy of nonviolence was derived from Christian—especially Anabaptist—sources, a significant influence was the work of Indian leader Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. While in seminary King’s gave a presentation he prepared for a class entitled “Christian Theology for Today,” where he included Gandhi as one of a number of figures he identified as “individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God.”

5. King is one of three people to have a federal holiday in his honor, according to The other two people with the recognition are George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Although the holiday celebrates King’s birthday, which is Jan. 15, MLK Day is considered a floating holiday, and is always observed on the third Monday of January.

6. Getting all 50 sates on board took until 2000. New Hampshire was the last state to adopt MLK Day as a paid state holiday in 1999, according to Fact Monster. Several states, including Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts, celebrated King before the federal holiday was created, only 27 along with the District of Columbia recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day after the federal law.

7. 17 Minutes: King delivered his most famous address, the “I Have A Dream” speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. According to National Public Radio, King spoke for 17 minutes to more than 200,000 supporters, calling for an end to racial discrimination.

Common mistakes in vision casting

It is that time of year when you are finalizing everything, closing your budgets, checking in on the completion of all goals, having your volunteer appreciation parties and more.

There is one more thing that is also on the mind of many as well, casting vision for the coming year. As I am working with several children’s pastors helping them prepare for this extremely important responsibility I am seeing a few mistakes that are popping up.

Here they are:

Emotionless Presentation
Nothing worse than casting vision in a monotone voice. You may not have the most charismatic personality but must still find a way to enthusiastically express your vision through your personality. You have to cast vision with passion or others wont be convinced that you’re convinced.

Some brief ideas to help you to carry out this:
* Be confident in what you have resolved as your goals, mission, and vision.
* Don’t try to present it like someone else. Be yourself and use whatever God has given you.
* Do some pre-sharing. Let it leak out in small groups of people. Hearing yourself say it again and again will build that excitement inside of you. After these pre-sharing times then take it to the masses.

Too Much Information
While it’s important for you to know the details of the vision don’t feel like you have to share ALL the details with everyone, all the time. When you share too much information you can actually dampen enthusiasm rather than inspire.

Rule of thumb: The bigger the audience the fewer the details you need to share. You can let them know there is a strategic plan, just don’t feel like you have to share the step by step details with the large crowd. This is better done in the pre-sharing groups mentioned in my point above.

Super Star
It can be tempting for a leader to take full credit for the vision. But when we shine the light on ourselves we take the light off of the vision.

Rule of Thumb: When casting vision use the word “we” more than “I”. Show the listener(s) how they fit into the vision. Actually the words “I” or “me” or “mine” should really be words stricken from leaders vocabulary for the most part unless it is time to take credit for a mistake.

Joseph timing
You may have a great vision but if you cast it at the wrong time you may do more damage than good. For example if you’re new in the role remember this principle: People buy into the visionary before they buy into the vision. Take the time to do the relational groundwork, build your credibility, prove authenticity, give people time to know you as well as know your vision. Take time to get key influencers behind and bought into the vision before casting it from a big platform.

Discovering the answers to question number 1

I had posted over here some questions that I keep in Evernote so I can draw them back up again when ever I meet someone that I want to grow from. I may not and usually do not get all the answers to these questions from that one person but I do get as many of the answers I can from each one.

I have had a friend and mentor of mine, Karl Bastian, leave a comment on that blog suggesting for me to write blog post on the answers myself. So, fair enough I will try and answer these myself with the understanding that I reserve the right to get smarter after I answer them.

Question 1 – What are the most important decisions you make as a leader for your ministry?

Answer: For me, I have been trained over all my years to make sure I have the right people on my team. So it would probably start with hiring or recruiting the top level team, those closest to me. I want to make sure I get my coordinators or those closet to me selected carefully. If I can do this and pour into them the “Strategy” & “Vision” (this would probably be 2 other decisions that I am very heavily involved in) then they will make sure the strategies and vision are poured into the rest of the teams and carried out.

There are my quick 3, what others would you add and why?

7 Questions To Hitting Your Target

Here are 7 questions to work through to help hit your targets/goals.

1. Have you identified and written down your goals?
There seems to be something different from just talking about and desiring different goals to actually writing them down.

2. Did you list the benefits? What will I gain by reaching this objective?
Concentrate on your benefits, not the problems that might be there. Knowing the benefits and having them written down helps keep perspective during those hard times.

3. Have you identified the obstacles which you will need to overcome in order to reach each one of those goals?
You see, if there were no obstacles, you’d already have everything you wanted.

4. Have you identified the skills and knowledge required to reach each one of these goals?
This question really helps you begin to prepare appropriately.

5. Who are the individuals, the groups, the companies and organizations you need to work with in order to get there?
Remember, if your goals are actually God given goals they will be larger than you. Since they are larger than you, you will need to collaborate with many. The bigger the dream the larger the team needed.

6. Have you begun to develop a specific plan of action to reach these goals?
Too many people go to their work every day or tackle life without specific objectives. So many of us have heard this saying: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And yet, many of us do not plan.

7. The final question: Have you set the dates you want to reach your goals?
If you don’t set the dates then it leaves too much open and way too much wiggle room to keep postponing progress in the goals. There will never be that sense of urgency needed often times to get huge goals accomplished.

iPad, Kindle type of distractions.

I love my iPad and can not or do not want to think of daily productive life without. I also have friends who have Kindles and they completely love them as well. My thoughts have always been, why get a Kindle that will only allow you to read when for just a little more you can get an iPad and have so much more at your disposal? I think I am seeing reasons for both in their respective areas.

As I have already stated I love my iPad and would not trade it, but often times when I want to go and read books that I have stored on it, as I open it up, I am tempted and give into that temptation, to go and check my email. Then before I know it I am darting off to read Facebook, twitter, Google reader for my RSS feeds and more through my app of Flipboard. Now I look up at the clock on my iPad and find that the time I had set apart for reading is now gone and I must begin to run with the rest of my schedule and have to rush off. This happens more than I want to confess at this time. The end result, I don’t get to accomplish the specific reading I wanted to.

Now for my Kindle friends. They have scheduled to go and read and so they pull out their Kindle and open it up and they…Read. Pretty simple but very effective for the task of just reading.

How many ways do I or you become distracted by the good and ignore what we set up in our agenda as the best for that time? How many times do we begin on a Kindle type walk through the halls of our church for a specific task and end up running an iPad type experience instead?  How do these types of daily decisions we make effect families, kids, our leaders, our churches and more.

Disclaimer: I am not in any way attempting to say that a iPad or Kindle are good, bad or anything in between. I am using these great devices as merely example from my own life. I support both devices as good devices.

New Position Landmine #4 Expectations go both ways

Whenever you begin a new position regardless of what it may be always remember that expectations will go both ways. As you enter into the new position you will have expectations and the people who are already there will have expectations of you as well. So, it is extremely important as a leader to set the right kind of expectations.

In order to set appropriate expectations as you start a new position, make sure you do your homework. You should gather as much information as possible from a variety of people, those in the know and those who have a stake in your success. I recommend gathering information from those who may not be against you but they are also not for you. Explore your assumptions concerning which problems need immediate attention, how to possibly fix them, and how long it will take. This is all part of you taking control of your expectations.

Now to help manage others expectations as you enter, remember your reputation will probably precede you. Throughout your ministry areas people may have anxiety built up around some changes that they have heard you will do or that they expect you to do and often these can get blown out of proportion.
Based on years of experience, I have learned that one or more of my new colleagues might have questions concerning my qualifications and leadership ability. They might even think, “I am just as smart as he is. So, what does he have that I don’t? I am just as smart as he is, so what does he have that I don’t?” Or thoughts could go toward people thinking, “Is this new guy going to be a good leader for me?” We always need to remember that perception is a person’s reality and that we always see the world through a certain set of lenses which are made up with our expectations, preconceptions, and even self interests.

So, be aware of not only your expectations but remember that others have some for you as well. As you enter your new ministry, stay aware of what messages you are sending out. You will have to work hard to set appropriate expectations for you and those who are already there. But building this step in will pay for itself with a smooth transition for you and the ministry you are joining.

Discovering clarity that helps others

As a leader we are constantly asking what can we do to find the clarity our teams require? Three approaches I will briefly lay out here that could help are:

1. Take a Time-out
Your job is to distill the world’s complexity into a vivid path for the future. If you’re not clear in your own mind, you won’t be clear to the people who are trying to follow you. You can’t lead unless you can conclude. And you can’t conclude if you don’t make time to think.

2. Practice Your Storytelling
As a leader, you must practice over and over what to say to describe where you’re taking people. After you’ve found the right words, stick with them—in emails, in meetings, in speeches. Here are just a few quick examples of some places that have found the right words to share their clarity:

* “Solutions for a small planet” from IBM.

* “The world’s online marketplace” from eBay.

* “Share a moment, share a life” from Kodak.

3. Show Your Hero’s
Your “hero’s or stars” are the people in your organization who clearly embodies the future for you. Praising that person helps people see what the future looks like more clearly. In doing this make clear what strength they embody, what score they have achieved, and what action they have taken. This makes a very clear leadership statement.

What are some other ways that you have found to show and communicate clarity to your teams?

“Beat Charlie Moore” Type Passion

Saturday morning: one of the days I love and always look forward to because it is fishing day. Yes, I love fishing from the banks or from a boat or even a bridge. I also love learning about fishing, watching it, or just talking about it. “Beat Charlie Moore,” a television show about fishing, is one of my favorite shows to watch. Why is that? And what might this imply for leaders in children’s ministry?

Charlie Moore has found a way to live out what he loves. He is truly passionate about fishing and it shows through his loud and outgoing personality. Charlie is in a field where there are many shows competing for the same audience with other very qualified professionals, and yet he draws in an audience that keeps him on the air while so many others either can’t make it on the air or have to quit due to a lack of viewership. He has found his niche and does it with complete authenticity. Like others in his very large, growing audience, I am drawn in by his sincere love and enjoyment for fishing.

This has all lead to me thinking through my passion and love for being a children’s pastor. How God uses my personality and gifts to reach more families for His Kingdom. I truly love fishing, but I love even more fishing for people who God has been tapping on their hearts and calling them into His Kingdom.

Have you found your niche that allows you to do what you enjoy, do it with all of your personality, and do it in a way that only you can do? People will be drawn when this happens.

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