Leadership in Parenting

Not long ago I wrote about getting your kids to talk to you.  Instead of asking questions all the time, sometime the best way to get them talking is to do something they enjoy and just listen.  Invariably they will open up and start talking.  The conversations that happen in this dynamic are truly Phenomenal, and lead to great interactions and opportunities for you as a parent to give guidance.

Always remember.  Any kind of effective leadership is intentional.  To be effective it has to be on purpose.  It doesn’t happen by osmosis.  This is true especially in your family and definitely with your children.  Spend time with your kids.  Have fun with your kids.  Allow them time to express themselves.  Play to their strengths and let them know you love them and are proud of them.  Make these kind of deposits in their lives and their response will be revolutionary.  Here is something I have started doing with my 9 year old, Sydney.  She is very creative and funny.  This is all her I just helped with the editing.  I can’t even tell you the fun we had doing this, and the great conversations and meaningful experiences we had as a result.

Wasting Away in the House

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1886-94) from ...

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We continued the series, “Outbreak” at harvest this weekend.  One of our points was one thing that changed when the new testament church was born was a realization that is God’s goodness that brings blessing on us, and His goodness that reaches and changes mankind.  Not the fairness of man.  People want everything to be “Fair.”

The truth is we don’t really want God to be fair.  If God was fair, then we should be under an eternal damnation.  We are imperfect sinful humans, and He is a holy God.  So in order for us to be in relationship with him, our sin had to be dealt with.  It was not fair that Jesus should have to pay our penalty.  It was not fair that Jesus took a beating on His back for the sake of our healing.  It was not fair that he had to take on human flesh to accomplish all of this.

However I am so glad He did.  When we have this attitude of man’s fairness it implies that we somehow deserve more than others.  We think, “I’m living right.”  “I’ve been a Christian for a long time.”  So God is going to bless me more than others.  The truth is we can’t earn the blessings of God.  God blesses us because He loves us, because he is good.  Sometimes we allow our pride to be irritated when God blesses people that we feel like are not as far along the spiritual maturity road as we are.

Realize this today, God loves everyone else as much as He loves you.  Now remember this is no lisense to sin, this is not lisence to be immature spiritually, but spiritual maturity is not about earning anything, it about believing the right things, its about realizing who you are and who’s you are

A perfect example of this is the story of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:25-31 (NKJ) “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

We have confused the idea of this story.  We have confused the word prodigal with the word rebellious.  The word prodigal means wasted.  When the younger son took the inheritance and left his family, he wasted his money, his talent, his time, his relationships.  His life became a waste.  A waste of potential and purpose.  The son I am interested in today however is not the one who wasted his life away from the house, but the other prodigal, the one who wasted his life while still in the house.

This passage of scripture is the conversation between the older son who stayed home.  The truth was he was being just as wasteful with his life as his brother who left was.  When the younger son came home the father greeted him, loved him, accepted him, and blessed him.  The older son, became angry.  He said I don’t understand, I have been here all this time and you haven’t thrown a party for me, you don’t appear to love me like you do this son who has run away.  The father says something to him that is the answer to living without resentment.  It is the answer to living life with purpose and not wasting your potential.  He said, all I have is yours, at any time that you’ve been here you could do whatever you want.  I do love you, but my love for you does not decrease my love for your brother.  The prodigal that stayed home had an issue with pride, and resentment.  The things he did that made his life a waste were, 1.  He resented his brothers failure, 2.  He compared himself with his brother, 3.  He forgot who he was, 4.  He thought the father was unfair.

How do I keep from wasting my life?

1.  Focus on Gods goodness, not on your or others imperfections.

God wants to empower you to overcome sin, and shame.  If you are obsessed with others failures your heart and mind are not moving in the right direction.  Your going backward, not forward.

2.  Don’t waste your time comparing yourself with others.

Its fine to emulate, and sometimes even imitate what others do.  Don’t ever compare yourself with others.  Compare yourself to the word, and to the potential that God has placed in you.

3.  Remember who you are.

You are a child of the King of Kings.  You are the righteousness of God.  You are empowered by the grace of God.  You have Gods promises at your disposal.  You are a power filled individual, because of Gods power in you.

4.  Focus on the goodness of God, not the fairness of man.

God blesses us because of his goodness, not becuase of our earning it.  Don’ let pride, religeous thinking, or comparison trap you in a life of condemnation, insecurity, anger and fear.  Live above all that by focusing, expressing, and living in the goodness of God.

Excited to be Invited!

Jesus

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Sitting here in starbucks working on leadership track development, about to shift gears to meet with some of our male pastors to brainstorm the Total Man Retreat for 2011.  So in the few minutes I have before they get here, I want to share with you my experience with inviting people to church.  I do and have always loved the opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people.  Really get in deep conversation about it and lead them to a relationship with Him.   However that doesn’t always happen in every conversation we have with people who we would want to come to church.  Many times you have time to merely invite people.  We use a tool at harvest called an invite card.  Its a business card type of an invitation.  It has the information for our campuses on it, and leaves a blank place we can put your name and number.  I use these all the time.

My experience with inviting people to church is simple.  People are excited to be invited.  I haven’t invited anyone to church yet that was antagonistic to me, or rejected me.  They don’t always come but I have never been treated badly when I have invited someone to come to church.  Its a compliment to someone to be invited somewhere.  I say this just to encourage everyone, the normal everyday person, no matter what the “experts” say, are not antagonistic towards the church, or to those who would invite them.  I think sometimes people “experts” make these sweeping statements about how people view the church, that are based on pop culture, but I encourage you to ask the next person who says something like that, “How many people have you invited to church, and how did they respond?”  Usually the extreme silence gives you the answer.

So, here are some easy practical ways to invite people to church or engage them in a conversation about Christ.

1.  Change your thinking:  From they don’t want to hear, and don’t want to be invited, to, They are excited to be invited.

I believe that most people would at least try church out if they were invited to go.  What are you losing to Invite them?

2.  Just invite them.

Be friendly, look for a time in the conversation before you go separate ways to invite them to come to church with you.

3.  Be available for a conversation.

Slow down a bit and be available to talk.  When you are in a public place don’t be glued to your phone, look up and engage people.  People want, and love to talk.  Be available for the conversation and the opportunity will present itself to invite them to church.

4.  Use a tool to help you.

If you have something like an invite card, use it.  It provides you with something to give, it helps you give them information that will keep you connected.

5.  Look for opportunities to do something Kind for someone.

This always creates an open door to talk about Jesus or invite them to church, because they want to know why you did that for them.

6.  look outside your family, and close friends.

What’s wrong with inviting someone you have met for the first time?  Remember they are excited to be invited!

Thinking for the Future, living in the Present.

It seems that much of the time there are two different types of leaders.  On the one hand you have a leader who can forecast, they think far into the future, and see what direction the organization needs to go.  They can set goals out in the future and allow them to pull the organization forward.  Or you have the leader who can seize the moment, they can take advantage of the opportunities of the day.  They let tomorrow take care of itself and they work hard for today.

I think a great leader is a person who can do both.  A great leader realizes that in order to reach those goals in the future, we must put them in bite size pieces and work on them each day.

Its unfortunate when leaders spend all there time dreaming about the future and never spend time doing anything today to get there.  On the other hand its sad to see a leader who is very practical and gets the job done, but doesn’t have a meaningful existance and loses sight of where they’re going because they’ve forgotten to consider the future.

My goal as a leader is to think for the future, while living in the present.  Realizing that the decisions I make and the actions I take today have a profound effect on tomorrow. Here are three ways to Think for the future, while living in the present.

1.  Don’t get so caught up with daily busy work and forget to take time to truly meditate on where you are going.

2.  Never underestimate the power of the routine, day to day actions that work together to build the future you are dreaming about.

(don’t resent the normal day to day activity that seems mundane, without it, you can’t realize the dream)

3.  Think and live with a high level of passion.

(be passionate about every day, and its opportunities and be passionate about your future)

So think about the future, but in doing so don’t forget to seize the moments of today, and live in the present, but make sure you are thinking about where you are going.

Remember its all your today’s added up that equal your future.

Book recommendation:  Today matters, by John Maxwell

Rut Buster

Have you ever been stuck in a rut?  I mean really stuck!  It’s no fun, it feels like all the momentum has left your life.  I had a friend that use to say, “a rut is nothing but a grave with the ends knocked out.”  That sounds horrible.  Sadly its true.  When we find our lives stuck in a rut, we become discouraged, easily defeated, bored, discontented, and really for all intents and purpose we are the walking dead.

I’m sure there are many reasons we find ourselves in a rut.  I say “find ourselves” because its seems to happen that way.  You wake up one day, and realize my life is without meaning.  I’m merely going through the motions.  I”M STUCK!  This is no small problem, because the fruit of this can cause major marriage problems, huge leadership gaps, and personal insecurity that can run your life off the rails. Lets not let that happen.  Not with us, or any of the people around us.  Lets bust the ruts.  Here are some ways to be a Rut Buster.

1.  Change your perspective

Begin to look at things from a positive place.  Be a Glass half full person.  Be purposeful in our gratitude.

2.  Live each day on purpose.

When you get up, ask yourself, what adventure awaits me today? Look at all aspects or your life as an adventure.

3.  Shake it up!

Do something different.  Drive to work a different way, Get up earlier or later.  Change your routine.  Do something different.

4.  Teach or train someone else to do what you do.

When you teach someone else about what you do, you find the purpose in it again.  You remember why it excites you, which evokes passion.

5.  Last, make your life about helping others.

The greatest rut buster out there, is to quit living in your rut and bust somebody elses rut wide open.

I beleive we get in ruts, becuase we have become so focused on ourselves that our world just becomes smaller and smaller until it is nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out.

So come on, Bust the Rut!  Get to living!

Producing Potential in People (Leader grab a shovel and dig)

A class in a newly rebuilt secondary school in...

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Potential is like buried treasure.  Leaders have a responsibility to dig it up.  Whether it is leading as a parent, a business leader, a manager, teacher, or Pastor.  Whatever kind of leadership role we function in, one of our primary duties is to get a shovel and dig.  We are digging for hidden treasure.  That gold under the surface.  At first glance all you see is dirt, but as you dig and move the dirt out of the way, you see all kinds of Gold and Jewels in the lives of those we lead.

The sad part about potential is that in most people’s lives it’s unrealized.  It’s hidden in the deep recesses of a persons fear or lack of confidence, or even opportunity.  As a leader I see it as my job to help unearth all of that great treasure in a persons life, so they can become everything God created them to be.  When we lead people, it can’t just be about getting them to do what we need done, or even about what our organization needs from them, it must be about the greater cause of fulfilling God’s purpose in them.

Our job is to grab a shovel and dig.  How do we dig out the dirt and get to the treasure?

1.  Become a master at seeing the potential in a person.

You’re a treasure hunter.  When you look at people you should view them with the eyes of what they could be.

2.  By getting them to realize there is more in them then they think.

Speak encouragement in the lives of those you lead, not flattery but true acknowledgment of their strengths, even if they are not fully visible yet.

3.  Give them practical ways to see and use the potential that is in them.

Put them in a role where they will get a win.  Where they can excell and it can be apperent to them and everyone around them, they could really do something great.

4.  Realize that this treasure called potential has to produced, it has to be mined.

Its a process, you have to dig through the dirt, not stopping to judge or criticize.  Confront when necessary but only to get to the gold.  Teach, train, dig, encourage, and once you get to the Gold, you have to polish it, value it, spend it.

It’s a shame when people with great potential never realize it, and its usually because they don’t have a leader in their life willing to see past the dirt, and dig to the treasure.  So if you’re a leader, start digging, and remember when you dig you’re realizing the potential in your own life.

Who’s Shoulders are You Standing on? – Part 3, My Pastor

I have written previously about my Grandfather and my Father.  They both have influenced my life greatly.  Through my adult life I have had many mentors, friends, leaders, and pastors in my life that have all contributed to my life in one way or the other.

About 15 or 16 years ago I met a man who really helped me.  I was a Senior Pastor at a very young age and  needed help.  I had gone through some difficult circumstances, and the organization I was with just wasn’t there for me.  Not because they were bad, or because they were less than anyone else,but the truth was the leadership issues I was dealing with at the time, no one had ever trained them how to effectively deal with them either, so its not that they were bad leaders, they just weren’t equipped, and I, by no means was either.

I was in the middle of transition, and I came across something called Youth America.  When I experienced it, I said to myself this is what youth ministry should be.  So, long story short, I met the man who was the leader of Youth America, he was also the Pastor of Church of the Harvest.  A great church in OKC.  Through a series of events we became acquaintances, then friends, and I ask him to be my mentor.  To make a long story even shorter I ended up working with him as his associate, and to this point I am still here.  This is my 13th year with Church of the Harvest, and with Pastor Kirk Pankratz.  http://www.harvestokc.com.   We’ve learned so much from he and Nancy his wife.  We’ve had great leaders come through our church and I’ve learned from them, as well.  He’s always learning and reading and meeting new people to help him grow, and I’ve learned from them myself and through his teaching our staff the things he’s learned from other people.  However there are some things that I’ve learned from him, that are a part of his Charecter, part of who he is.  Those are the things I want to share with you.

#1.  Never be intimidated to go after relationships with people who are farther down the rode than you are.

He’s been an example to me and has taught me how to build relationships with people who can build me as a person, as a pastor, and cause me to reach higher and farther.  Many leaders cary such insecurity that they blow successful leaders up in their minds, completely out of proportion, and fail to realize they are people just like you and I.  We should do our best to learn from them, and grow, and not to be intimidated to try to get to know them.  It may be reading their books, it may be going to their conferences, meeting them, inviting them to our church, and see where it goes, but the idea is, those relationships are important to our growth.

#2.  You can learn from anyone.

He has taught me that everyone has something to teach us.  They can teach us how to do things or how not to do things, but everyone has something they can teach us.  There is no room in the body of Christ for looking down our noses at people who have “not gone as far as we have”  we can learn from them as well, and different people can teach you different things.  One pastor may be able to teach us how to really care about people, while another could teach us how to develop systems that produce growth.  Our kids can even teach us if we will listen.

#3.  Always assume the best first.

Be patient, don’t always assume the negative.  Assume that people do want to do right.  Assume that they are doing their best.  Assume that they do care.  Don’ immediately assume they have an ulterior motive, or are trying to hurt you.  As a result of this teaching it led me to have this thought.  There is always a story.  So much of the time when something negative happens we immediately begin to judge, and assume without knowing all the facts.  However the longer I live and the more I lead, I realize in most people’s lives we would judge, there’s a story.  Its the idea that you can’t judge somone until you have walked in their  shoes.  We don’t know for sure how we would respond to something if we haven’t gone through it.  I’m not talking about making excuses for people, but assuming the best first until the facts prove other wise. Example, when you hear something negative about another Christian, is your first response to judge and criticize or is it to say, there is no way, that happened?

#4.  Persistence is one of the key components to success.

He has taught me to look at the greatest odds and say, God is with us, and we can do this.  Then proceed to walk through it until it is done.  Just set your face like flint, and believe in what God has asked you to do.  The only real way to get others to believe in your vision  is to so completely believe it that you will walk through hell and back to achieve it.  There is no problem to big to stop what God wants us to do, and we have to be totally resolved about it.

#5.  People don’t follow who they believe in, they follow who believe in them.

So much of our time as leaders is spent trying to get our followers to own the vision.  Trying to get people to live for the cause, to face all the odds, to move forward, not back or set still.  So much of the time our techniques point to us.  They can be selfishly motivated.  Its as if we are standing there begging people, “believe in me, believe in me.”  The way to achieve that however is to sincerely, authentically believe in them.  Belive in their heart, their loyalty, their gifts, and their desire to do what’s right.  Show them that you believe in them, let them be a part of the process.  Don’t put them down, don’t treat them like dumb sheep wandering around without a brain, but believe in them, and let them know it.  Why would we expect someone to serve our vision, and not respect them.  Believe in people and they will follow you to the ends of the earth to accomplish your goals.

I am sure there are many more, but those are the things that stand out to me, that he has taught me.  This is the final blog in this series.  Realize today, you are not an original, you are the collective input, and impartation of leaders who have gone before you and influenced you.  In all our ideas, in all our plans, in all our goals, and successes, the best way to stay humble is to remember, this didn’t start with us.  Thank God for mentors, fathers, family in our lives who have made us what we are today.