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Anything you do in life HALFWAY always becomes boring, including your Christianity. Isn't that so true? There's a motto that hangs in our home that has really become a mantra for me. It says, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways to heaven, body thoroughly used up, and happily shouting, 'WHAT A RIDE, JESUS! WHAT A RIDE!'"
In this month's Source, "Boring!" I'm developing a mantra with my students for impacting our world. It can be summed up in three words: VISION + ENDURANCE = CONQUEST. With some help from the life of Esther and an incredible true story about Notre Dame, it's my prayer that our students are ignited with fresh passion to go make a difference in their sphere of influence.
Go cut down your nets,
Have you ever tried to carry something that weighed a ton a long way? It can be brutal and significantly impact the direction and distance you travel. It's no different when it comes to carrying the invisible weight of failure. It can be debilitating for our students...but it doesn't have to be!
As youth leaders, I think one of the most important things we could ever coach a student on is how to make a strategic comeback after an epic failure (or any failure for that matter). Helping students realize that "at the very moment they are most tempted to run away from the Lord is the time to run to Him" is crucial for their spiritual lives.
In this message, we look at the lives of three of the biggest failures in the Bible...Moses, the "Murderer," David, the "Adulterer," and Jacob, the "Deceiver." Even though they failed in big ways, they learned to break the "Failure Phobia," repent, and keep going. Using their stories, a video, an object lesson and an Indian boy, in this Source we teach our students some simple steps to help them overcome the "Failure Phobia" too.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, "Building Something That Will Last," we discuss what it takes to build a ministry that not only leaves an imprint on the hearts and lives of students, but lasts long after you've left.
How do you do it? For the most part, it boils down to intentional decision-making in a number of key areas in your ministry and personal life. While some of the choices can seem difficult in the moment, they are the very things that will catapult you and your ministry into the future. So join me for a cup of coffee and let's chat on what it takes to build something that lasts. My heart's desire is for you to be in the youth ministry trench beside me for years to come.
In Luke 10, we read where Jesus sent out His first groups of "volunteers." And when they returned, Jesus gave them their first leadership lesson. He said, "I need to talk to you about JOY."
There are a lot of leaders out of ministry because leaders tend to mismanage their joy. That's probably why this was His first leadership lesson to His volunteers. "The joy of the Lord is our STRENGTH." Thus, you've misplaced your strength if you've misplaced your joy.
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "Christ's First Leadership Lesson To His Volunteers," I'm sharing leader to leader on a topic that Christ thought was important enough that He taught it to His volunteers before anything else...JOY. Regardless of what the season looks like for any of us, we must choose to manage our joy as we do this ministry thing. So, listen in because it's a BIG DEAL!
According to surveys done by the Fuller Institute of Church Growth, 70% of pastors have no one they consider to be a close friend and 50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last 3 months. Those are staggering statistics and I suspect that the numbers aren't too different for youth pastors and leaders.
This Youth Leader's Coach, "Coping With Stress and Burnout In Youth Ministry," is probably destined to be one of your favorites. I share candidly with you on stress and burnout. After 35 years in fulltime youth ministry, I've obviously experienced my share of both of these. So I wanted to share with you some of the pragmatic and medical things I have learned through the journey that can help you in these crucial areas.
Most of all, I wanted you to realize that when you feel pretty seriously stressed and even burned out, you are understood and not crazy! It's my honor to send this Youth Leader's Coach your way. Keep it filed somewhere so you can pull it out occasionally. It probably will be worth listening to more than once.
Lovingly Your Sis,
I LOVE ROCKY MOVIES! All of them! They were big deals in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. But a more recent release, CREED, brings a taste of the Rocky era to today's generation. These movies show us how hard it is to be a CHAMPION, but the focus of the Word of God is not so much that we all be CHAMPIONS...but that we all be CONTENDERS.
It's not always EASY staying in the fight. But Philippians 3:14 reminds us to, "PRESS ON and reach the end goal." In this month's Source, "Creed," I encourage students to KEEP FIGHTING the battles of life that can easily cause us to "throw in the towel."
Have you ever hit periods when you were unmotivated to do youth ministry? Where you were painfully "blah" in other areas of your life? I used to think that if I just took care of my "spiritual person," I was going to be okay. But the truth is, doing ministry for the long haul (more than 3 months) is more complicated than just taking care of your spiritual self. What I wish someone had told me earlier is what I've learned through the years. There are "Five Ministry Tanks" that we need to keep paying attention to in order to give us "fuel" to do ministry for the long haul. If not, we run the risk of showing up to heaven with an enlarged ministry, but a shrunken heart.
That's what this Youth Leader's Coach, "Dealing With The Ministry Blahs," is all about. In it I share some of the risks associated with ministry "blahs" or "running on an empty tank." And then look at all five ministry tanks...SPIRITUAL, PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL and RELATIONAL and some of the ways that that I have been successful in keeping them filled through my ministry run.
Daniel 7:25 says, "The Enemy shall wear out the saints of the Most High God." Wow, given the chance, isn't that the truth! The pounding from ministry distractions, loneliness, and fatigue have probably taken far more out of the race than we even realize.
In this Youth Leader's Coach we look to Nehemiah for strength in how to not only start well but, more importantly, "stay on the wall" and finish well. On multiple occasions, he navigated the landmines that could have easily derailed the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem...permanently. So, grab a couple of coffee, lean in, and learn from one of the best of the best biblical leaders on how to talk back to the Enemy!
How do we REALLY hold on to spiritual mileage? This is something we all wrestle with, student and leader alike. You know we all have times when we have big moments with God, and then 48 hours later, it really had no lasting effect on us. The truth is, making spiritual mileage is a big deal. But, keeping spiritual mileage is an even bigger one!
I shared this message with my students the week after we got back from a life-changing youth retreat. I gave them 4 ESCAPE HATCHES that are helpful for all of us who want our spiritual mileage to last for the long haul. I promise this will be a pivotal message to share with your teenagers and young adults.
A message prepared in the MIND reaches the MIND. But a message prepared in the LIFE reaches a LIFE. This resource? It was prepared in my life.
In this month's Source, "Don't Come Off The Ice," I'm talking about faithfulness. I think it's one of the most important principles we could ever talk about, but I don't hear people talk about it often. There are a lot of GREAT STARTERS in the Kingdom, but not a lot of GREAT FINISHERS. Remember that endurance is often your greatest revenge on Hell.
So that's my challenge in this message. Just stick it out. Stay faithful. Endure. Then, one day, we will stand before the Lord and hear, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
Over and over again I have leaders ask me, "How do I stay spiritually fresh while doing youth ministry?" Truth of the matter is that ministry will always demand our energy, but it is our responsibility to fight to keep ourselves refreshed. That's much easier said than done, which is why this resource is so vital for all of us.
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "Fighting For Your Own Spiritual Freshness While Doing Youth Ministry," I give you ten ideas that will be helpful to you in revitalizing your spiritual walk.
Contrary to what many people think, it is not your talent or your intelligence that is really the major predictor of how much happiness or success you're going to have in your life, your family, your vocation, or your ministry. A far more accurate predictor of those factors is your GRIT. And best news is that grit isn't something you are just "born with"...but it is something you can cultivate!
In this Youth Leader's Coach, I share pragmatics from the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. We'll take a look at what "grit" is. I'll also share four psychological assets that, if you choose to grow them over time, will help you grow your GRIT. As novelist John Irving says, "To do anything really well, you have to OVEREXTEND YOURSELF."
Committed to growing my GRIT,
Life isn't always a party! During the rough times, people give cheap answers. But HOW do you live victoriously when the "tough times" come into your life? That's the question we are answering in this month's Source, "Hang Tough."
Looking at Luke 29, we'll see how Jesus made it through the toughest challenge anyone has ever experienced...that of being brutally hung on a cross for the sins of the universe. I'm sharing four takeaways that we can apply to our own tough life situations. We're asking Jesus to make us "HANG TOUGH" people.
Hanging in there,
Why is the TV series Heroes such a smash hit? Everyone wants to be one...a hero that is. Don't you? In this Source, we speak to that desire. Through skits, stories and the Bible, we laugh, cry and reveal what it takes to be God's kind of hero, not a seasonal hit but an eternal one.
The public and private life of Esther gives us great insight on both the responsibility and risk that come with being God's kind of hero. As you know, while we all want to be a hero in front of the lights, flash and camera, most true heroic moments come when few, if any, are present. Esther was no exception. Her struggles and ultimate victory gives us hope that we too can come out on top.
Just in case no one has shown up in your life to express appreciation lately, allow me to thank you for paying all the costly prices to be a hero in the lives of our students. May you continue to have the vision, endurance and desire to love our kids authentically and run the race well.
Enjoying the journey with you,
I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to quit. There were countless reasons - restlessness, boredom, lack of appreciation, frustration with leaders, disappointed with decisions and the list goes on. Whatever the reason, in the moment, quitting seemed justifiable. But in hindsight, it would have been a huge mistake.
I'm not saying once you start somewhere you are supposed to die there. However, we do need to walk carefully, with much thought and consideration, given that we are a part of a generation that does not "endure" well. Know that we will never be much of a threat to the kingdom of hell, if we allow ourselves to jump ship too quickly. Instead, slow that train down and allow me, and those who know you best, to speak into your life on how and when to move on.
Refusing to quit,
I've always been a woman on a mission...to leave a genuine legacy that honors Christ. You've heard me quote my personal mission statement over and over: "The motivation and mentorship of Kamikaze Christianity into practicing and potential Kingdom champions." In this Source I challenge each of us with the question, "What's going to be the SIGNATURE OF YOUR LIFE?" I ask you to be audacious enough to answer the unspoken question that everybody will be trying to casually ask in the “reunion” celebrations of your life, "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE?" We all want to do something AMAZING and WORLD-CHANGING with our lives, but really, what does that even look like today?
You'll also hear me reference one of the greatest men I ever knew that REALLY did something DEEPLY meaningful with his life on earth. I had the honor and privilege to see what real, destiny-altering legacy looked like for 48 years with my beloved husband and hero, Pastor Mayo. He was a LEGEND...to me, and to many of you.
WHAT MAKES A LEGEND? This is the definition I gave at Pastor Mayo's Homegoing Celebration...INTEGRITY + ENDURANCE = GOD'S KIND OF LEGEND
What's a crucible? It's that place where you get crushed and everything inside comes spilling out. It's usually characterized by mounds of pressure, sometimes heat, and a whole lot of adversity. According to Warren Bennis in Geeks and Geezers, "The ability to find meaning and strength during these times of adversity is what distinguishes leaders from non-leaders more than any one single quality."
In these instances, it's as if you are handed a pen and given the opportunity to write the end of the story...your story. Whether the stormy times render you powerless or give you fresh resolve is a matter of choice.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, may my 39 years in ministry help you assign purpose to your pain and not just survive the crucibles, but thrive in them.
Turning wounds into wisdom,
This Youth Leader’s Coach is a leadership pep talk that I often give to myself. It's this kind of self-talk that has kept me in the game for over four decades. Henry Thoreau said, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, maybe it is because he marches to the beat of a different drummer." And through the run when challenges came, I learned that no man is ever down for the count…until he quits in his own mind. So, I just get back up and keep drumming!
I hope these simple pragmatics will help you if you ever feel like you're discouraged or want to give up. And don't forget, you can never let God down. Do you know why? Because you were never holding Him up in the first place! If you don't need this encouragement now...you will. So, listen to this Youth Leader's Coach so you are prepared to just KEEP DRUMMING. If you do that my friend, I promise that heaven and I will be clapping for you.
Without fail, about the time we've been in youth ministry long enough to have a little perspective...a little seasoning...a little depth, we begin to feel a little disconnected to the youth culture. Like clockwork, the mind games kick in that leave us wondering whether we're "too old," "too uncool" or "too out of touch" for youth ministry. In all reality, nothing could be further from the truth!
We can't, however, just ignore the culture. There are some right choices we can make along the way that will increase our effectiveness and ability to stay connected with today's youth. So join me as I give 10 simple suggestions in this issue of Youth Leader's Coach that will help in "Keeping Yourself Relevant For The Long-Haul."
Our society many times makes us restless, thinking we need to move on from our present circumstances simply because we've become bored or unsatisfied. If we're not careful, we'll never stay one place long enough to make hell nervous. However, there are times, when the Lord is calling us to move on. In this season of my life, I have had the honor to help walk some fine folks through times of transition. Sometimes the transitions were due to a new opportunity arising, being released, or truly a feeling moved on by the Holy Spirit. So along the way, there are a few different things I've learned that I want to share with you in this invaluable resource.
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "Knowing How and When To Move On," let me challenge some of your thoughts when it comes to how to walk through transition effectively. If there's one thing I've learned in my 40+ years in ministry, it's that if you are faithful to do the KNOWN will of God today, God will be faithful to reveal his UNKNOWN will tomorrow.