Monday, September 8, 2014

Huh, what did you say?

Featured ImageSeveral years ago God blessed me to join an amazing team planning a community wide trunks and treats on Halloween. We planned and prepared together for countless hours. Then, one day we decided to pray together, at the site of the trunks and treats. We wanted God to be in charge of every detail of the event. We held hands as each amazing team member prayed. And as one of the leaders completed their genuine prayer I said, "Amen" and gave the requisite hand squeeze to indicate that it's time to open our eyes and move on. The problem was this: that wasn't the last person to pray. I had become so distracted in my owns thoughts and feelings that I hadn't paid attention to where we were in the praying process. Embarrassment covered by face to see how quickly, my divested attitude and distracted thoughts became obvious. Simply put, I had devalued everyone praying by not really listening to their prayers.

Don't we all face this at times too. For example, we receive a call or someone walks into our room and we say, or at least imply that we are ready to talk, but the truth is... we are not present. Our minds are still racing through the details needed to brainstorm a task, we are mentally trying to solve a relationship or logistical problem, we are trying to creatively develop a project, we are playing games are texting, and more. We are distracted by our wants, our worries, our desires and we fail to be present to the people God has placed in our lives.

How can we extract ourselves from our agenda and present ourselves fully to those we encounter? Wherever strategy we take it won't be easy. It may be a simple concept, "change of attitude and focus" but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Ultimately it is a matter of the heart. Paul says it this way in the book of Philippians, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (ESV) That person on the phone or in your office is more significant that you are. This is life changing. If we put others first by really listening to them and being present, God promises that we are being just like Jesus. We are being life-giving.

So today, young leader, today when someone arrives in your room, if you make the decision to take that phone call, turn your computer or tablet screen off, close your books, flip any papers you are working on over and be present. Because if you say in words or attitude, "Huh? What did you say?" you are life-taking. Choose to give life.

Imagine what your life could be like, what your family could be like, what your work or school could be like, what your church could be like if you choose to be totally present. You would be a life giver for Jesus Christ and you could literally change the world just by listening... one person at a time. WOW!

For more details about how to become an excellent listener click here. It's brief but excellent!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Death of Possibility

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX asked a simple question, if humans reached the Moon in the 1960s why haven't we made it to Mars yet. By all reasonable estimations, at the rate technology, availability of materials, and expertise where growing, humans should have landed on Mars decades ago. Is "determined will" missing? Are funds lacking? What, in fact, is the problem?

First, he looked at the current cost of a space-bound rocket, nearly $24 million. Next he asked about the cost of the component raw materials, less than $100,000. He thought, is it necessary to spend $24 million to put together materials that individually only cost $100,000?

Next, he purchased rockets to examine how they were assembled. He asked questions about how the components were connected, the expertise needed for assembly, and the time needed to complete the process. Given the cost of parts and the time and expertise needed he came up with the conclusion: the current cost of Rockets is what it should be. Then he walked away in disgust, knowing he could never afford such an astronomical price. Mars would never be an affordable option for space exploration. This possibility died!

Actually, that's not what happened. Elon shared the conventional thought process as he said, "Historically, all rockets have been expensive, therefore in the future all rockets will be expensive. But actually that's not true." Elon, in the midst of a dire situation, asked a liberating, essential, empowering question that can open us up to new possibilities, can give us new hope, can enable us to dream new and exciting dreams. He asked, are the established ways of doing things the only way to do things? Resoundingly he discovered this simple answer, no. No, past systems and strategies aren't always the most useful. No, past methodologies are not necessarily the best. No, past paradigms don't always help.

He wanted new results and was willing to take the worthwhile and calculated risk to try something new. Now he is building rockets commercially to transport satellites into space and some day transport people to Mars for 6 million dollars per rocket, 1/4 of the previous cost. Wow!

Elon's amazing insight transformed his way of thinking and it can ours as well. It sounds a lot like Paul's words to the Romans, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 NIV 

Young Leaders, you are not bound by past ways of doing things. New possibilities await.

So how might you actually live out this truth.
  • Identify the problem you are solving. Your challenge might be writing a research paper, finding a job, feeding the poor, overcoming bullying, or building a strong relationship with someone. Clarify the obstacle you face.
  • Next, identify current recommendations for solving this problem. Look online, in books, and other trusted sources of information. Do your research.
  • Now, name the limitations to each strategy and consider what kinds of solutions might be available beyond the horizon of current ideas.
  • Also, bring the right people to the table. Who has expertise or knowledge that you need to understand? How can you integrate their ideas and thoughts in new and meaningful ways?
  • Always ask God to help you pull together these new ideas.
  • Finally, develop a new strategy and act. Go for it. Failure will be a part of moving forward. Failure can be good because it increases your potential to solve your problem in a greater way than you might ever have dreamed possible.
Imagine the possibilities when old ways of thinking no longer hold us down.

Now, go Young Leader, and change the world!

Wil Davenport from Young Leaders

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Everything. But what is it?

Integrity- If you have it, it's everything. If you don't have it, it's everything.

Click on the image below to hear Craig Groeschel share a powerful, INCREDIBLY powerful sermon on this.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Four Effective Ways to NOT get hired!!!!


Wouldn't you agree that as a young leader it is a real pain to have to interview for a job? I mean really... who wants to get a good job, who wants to communicate well who you are and how you can be a blessing to a company or organization, who wants to have meaningful ways to serve your community, who wants to make a difference in this world through your work. It's so much more fun to be turned down in a job interview, even if you would do a great job, right?

So try out these effective strategies that I guarantee will keep you from ever being employed... ANYWHERE.

First, never create eye-contact. Eye-contact demonstrates confidence. It communicates strength of character. It shows you are present in the moment. NEVER DO THIS! You might get a job it you do this. Yikes.

Second, whatever you do, not matter how hard it may be... do not, I repeat, do not smile. If you share a genuine smile during your interview, that person may think that you are a kind and caring person. DISGUSTING! And if they think you care then they might give you the opportunity to (I'm about to say a really bad word) WORK! Uggghhhhh.

Third, remember, mumbling is your friend. Never ever speak clearly and enunciate. Never talk with enthusiasm and purpose. This communicates that you would bring energy and passion to your work and that you would add value to the organization. It just gives me the creeps to think about it. So, just keep your mouth half or mostly closed and rarely speak in the direction of the person you are talking to.. and you'll be fine.

Finally, I cannot say how highly I recommend checking every text, listening to every sound, talking to every passer by, and generally staying distracted during an interview. I shudder to think about it, but if do the opposite, if you stay connected in conversation with your interviewer he or she may see you as a respectful and focused person, the kind that would be a joy to work with. What a horrible possibility!

In summary, if you don't want to be weighed down with a meaningful, compelling, useful job, four sure fire strategies are to 1) Never make eye-contact, 2) Never Smile, 3) Never Speak Enthusiastically, and 4) Never stay connected in conversations. I guarantee that you'll never get a job.

Good luck... I mean bad luck to you!

Special thanks to Frankie Turner for Chic-fil-A at Hunter's Crossing, Alcoa, TN for the positive version of these core 4 competencies.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Will Christianity Have a Future???

Great news, world wide Christianity is growing at a faster pace that it ever has in the history of the world. Bad news: in North America Christianity is declining… rapidly. Based on Pew research in 2007, over ¼ of all Americans (28%) have left the religion or faith of their childhood. We live in a culture where although there are small pockets of growth within individual churches and a few denominations, overall the landscape looks bleak.[1] In particular, we are losing our young people from our churches and from the faith at a staggering rate. Author Josh McDowell, an international speaker and leader in Campus Crusade for Christ, says in his book The Last Christian Generation that 85% of youth drop out of our churches between 10th and 12th grade… 85%.[2] Let that sink in for a moment. 85%, more than 80 out of every 100 teens who have been a part of a church are… leaving.  For some it may be a short hiatus, but the growing reality is that many do not return.[3] In the fall of 2009 I attended a conference near Kansas City, KS at The Church of the Resurrection.  At the conference, Rev. Adam Hamilton shared that the United Methodist Church is in decline and that the age of the average United Methodist is growing and growing. (Today, the average age is 57.) Rev. Hamilton said that the average age is increasing at such a rate that in 20 years the typical United Methodist would be “deceased.”[4]

I am unwilling to stand by and simply watch as our churches struggle. I want to be used by God to be a part of His solution to grow Christianity here. No simple magic pill exists to solve this problem, but… I agree with Rev. Hamilton that one key component of any strategy to revitalize and build the church must be to equip, mentor, and empower young leaders. We desperately need their passion, their gifts, and their willingness to shape the body of Christ. Simply put, my passion is to invest in young leaders so that they can become skilled and passionate followers of Jesus Christ. And I want to partner with Christians who recognize our dilemma and are looking for a solution whether that is in churches, schools, universities, para-church organizations, or more. 

I believe and have experienced the truth that older children through young adults have so much to offer our churches. Young leaders often have a strong desire to make a difference in the world and, in the context of a strong relationship, embrace opportunities to grow, learn, and lead. When we enter into their lives, when we actively listen to their hopes, struggles, and dreams, when we challenge them to live lives of integrity and obedience, when we equip them to lead with skill and passion, and when we empower them to make a difference RIGHT NOW for God’s Kingdom… watch out! God places within these young leaders the ability to authentically reach and nurture people of all ages to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. 

Over the course of 9 years in leading children and families within the church context I have learned that mentoring young leaders resonates with the very core of who God made me. I truly love participating in God’s plan to prepare young leaders. I learn so much from them along the journey as well. And my desire is to not only develop young leaders first hand but to equip and encourage other individuals and organizations to do the same. 

On-site, hands on consultation; on-going, one-on-one coaching; in-person training workshops; and comprehensive, tailored curriculum are among the resources I can offer to an organization looking to invest in Your Young Leaders. The future of the church in North America is at stake. What will you do?

[2] From “The Last Christian Generation” by Josh McDowell.


[4] From “The Leadership Institute” Plenary session, November 2009.