Books!

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, stories, Student Ministry, team building, Uncategorized

books

 

I love reading. Every time I do I learn something new, take a adventure, get some crazy ideas and grow in confidence in a new area. Over the past few years there are a few different books that I wanted to share with you all that have helped me grow as a leader, teacher, mentor, and husband. They have helped me to influence other people and challenged me to grow closer to God. Here are a few essentials to add to your reading list.

My Utmost, His Highest – Oswald Chambers

https://www.amazon.com/My-Utmost-His-Highest-Paperback/dp/1572937718/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HW3E38186B4CMJVQJEG5

I have loved this devotional since college. My friend Louie put it in my hands and he always referred to Oswald Chambers as Ozzy. I have probably read this book through and through seven or eight times and it never gets old. It is like a spiritual kick to the face and helps me to navigate life. It is a great addition to your daily readings and you can download it as an app. It has challenged me to grow in my faith and become closer with God. 

Wild at Heart – John Eldridge

https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Revised-Updated-Discovering/dp/1400200393/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469417&sr=1-1&keywords=wild+at+heart

I read this book yearly. Again, Louie gave me my first copy and it has helped me to understand faith, my part in Gods bigger story and how to find an authentic manhood. It is one of the few books I have multiple copies of simply to give away to people (seriously, you want one let me know it’s yours). Reading this book has helped to understand my personal struggles, my role as a man in this world and helped me to see who God has created me to be. 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful/dp/1451639619/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469433&sr=1-1&keywords=7+Habits+of+Highly+Effective+People

The first time I read this was with a bunch of youth pastors looking for ways to step up our game. It was impactful in ways that I cannot describe. Even today when I am feeling overwhelmed I think about the four quadrants and where I am currently in (if you don’t know what I am talking about you should pick this book up!). It helps me to be a more strategic person, a better decision maker, become more mindful about my work and has allowed me to stay organize and focused. I am not perfect and don’t have all 7 down to a science, but I try and find that they help me out a lot. 

Love Does – Bob Goff

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Does-Discover-Secretly-Incredible/dp/1400203759/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469466&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+Does

Through reading ‘Love Does’ I was inspired to step out of my comfort zone and love other people in a more impactful way. Bob shares a vignette every chapter that helps me to see God in a better way, connects my personal story to Gods narrative, and allows me to dream up new ways to simply love people. It helped me to see that loving people is easier than we think, we just have to have the courage to do it. Bob is funny, loves people and is always up for an adventure. 

Lead Small – Reggie Joiner

https://www.amazon.com/Lead-Small-Ideas-Every-Leader/dp/0985411627/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469482&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=LeadSmall

I felt like Lead Small was the last kick in the butt I needed to finally realize it is ALL about relationships. Life, ministry, you name it, it is about connecting with people in order to have a greater impact than you can imagine. Lead Small is a cornerstone idea from Orange that helps to inform  leaders on how to think small in their areas of life.   Instead of trying to influence hundreds of people, Lead Small helps us to think strategically on how we can influence a few. Whether it is ministry, in schools, or at work when you think small you discover a big impact. Lead Small has helped put relationships on the forefront of my mind, helped me discover new ways to connect with people and figure out how to walk alongside my few through life. 

What are some of your favorite books? What are owns that have change you and made you better. Comment and let me know.

Bullied

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, life, students, Uncategorized


bullied

I’ve been dealing with bullying a lot this week. Sometimes, people are just plain mean to each other. I am not always sure how to handle it and many times the students involved and the circumstances dictate the approach that you use. Something in me fires up when dealing with kids that are being bullied. When you dive into the issues though you often discover that both the victim and the bully need guidance and support.

This week a girl was crying in the hallway after she got punched and filed a report. I walked her down to the nurse to get some ice and just started asking what happened. She relayed her story and to be honest, some adults messed up in the story too. When she was asking her to tell her story I would make sure to have my phone away and then when she took a breathe I would recap what I was hearing so far. Practicing empathetic listening can go along way with someone who is being bullied. I got the information then I decided to communicate with people that needed to get involved further with disciplinary actions. I just made sure she was safe, she had a need met, and was simply heard.

During mediations with students sometimes kids rekindle past frustrations. When someone is amped up and quickly talking, on the verge of yelling, simply ask “can you slow down, I want to help?” This quick statement helps them to acknowledge they need to slow down but in a way that is non-threatening and allows you to say that you are here to help out. Allow for everyone speak, they should try to stick to their side of the story and how it made them feel and act. I ask a lot of clarifying questions and ask why a lot. It helps students to process their emotions and the situation at hand. I try to bring the bullies into a place of empathy with who they bullied, even with a small connection.

Often times, something is going on in the life of the bully that drives them to bullying behavior. I try to talk with them on the side quietly. I ask them questions about life, the emotions they are feeling and process why they would want to hurt someone else. You would be surprised at home many students lash out simply because they themselves have been bullied or hurt someone else simply to feel better about themselves. These can sometimes be tough because there is a misconception about bullies, being tough, and showing off for peers. Building a relationship with the bully is just as important as showing up for the victim. It can change a life.

When working with students you will encounter bullying. Social media, physical, verbal attacks, groups gossiping and even fights. How you step into the hurts of these students tell them a lot of you and about themselves. Be a bridge builder between people, develop their empathy towards one another and walk with them in the hurt.

Connection

church, community, empathy, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Uncategorized

fuse

 

     I sat listening to a speaker, with my wife, the other night talk about the need for connection, a need for relationships, with people in order to change the world. At the end there was time for Q&A. Many people understood the need for connecting with people who are hurting, lost or in the midst of struggle. However, many questions were geared to how to engage and connect with the people the see everyday.

     Many people felt unqualified to help others. The presenter said that someone asked him once what made him qualified to help others and he responded, “because I have a pulse.” We often underestimate our ability to simply be with people. You are qualified, you have a passion, you have talents and you are surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes, all we need to do is be vulnerable enough to invite someone else into our lives. Through this invitation we can connect with people. 

     Having a hard time figuring out how? Start small. Learn a persons name. There is power in a name, the feeling of being known by someone. Ask questions to get to know them. Go do something with them; share a meal, or go volunteer together, anything to allow proximity. Then, be vulnerable to share about yourself first.

     Impacting the lives of others impacts our own lives too. We are able to grow and learn along with the people that we interact with. Maybe you’re a mentor, a teacher, a volunteer or an advocate, your proximity to other people rubs off on you. It is meant to. Rubbing shoulders with people can be messy, don’t be afraid. When you walk with people through life the learning is reciprocal. 

     Don’t go into a relationship hoping to fix someone, go in just to be with them. When we go in with our own expectations and our own agendas we miss the opportunity to simply be with someone else. There may be frustration when they make a decision we don’t agree with or relapse into an old habit. If we have our own agendas we will be tempted to simply walk away. When we walk away from another we lose the opportunity to share life together. 

     Life change is not a sprint it is a marathon. Love over time. Sometimes a very long time. Connecting with people, especially those who society has pushed to the margins, is what life is about. Go after authentic relationships, have great conversations, get messy and laugh. You are qualified, you have a pulse.

Dreamers

#misfits, community, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

dreams

 

When I close my eyes and think what God wants me to do I always get the same image in my brain. The same ideas, the same processes, and the same passion. It’s a dream that He’s given me. To be honest, I get scared that my dream will simply be a dream. There are things I am doing right now thought to make it happen.

I talk about my dream a lot. Honestly, I do this just to simply keep me accountable. I don’t want the dream to die so I figure if I talk about it then there is still hope for it to be. People have started to ask me questions about it in conversation and I love processing new ideas with people. A friend randomly gave me a tool I needed to start on one aspect of it. It was probably the coolest thing ever. 

I am doing a lot to learn. I am basing my research papers for grad school on issues regarding my dream. I email random experts in different fields asking them questions just trying to just learn things. I always just have this thought that if they don’t respond or if I get shut down then I am exactly where I am currently. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

I take small steps. I look at what other people are doing in their businesses, or in chasing their own dreams, and I do what I can. I start with social media, or blogging. I try to network with other people and get ideas from them. I plan a lot, write curriculum or fill out forms (in a lot of dreams you end up filling out some sort of form). It keeps me hungry and I know it may not be today or tomorrow but it is going to happen.

Fear ultimately is my biggest enemy. Fear leading to doubt which leads to inaction. That it is a dumb idea, how can I support a family on a dream or that voice that says I am too messed up to even think about something good for myself. I like to tell that voice to shut up (and a few other choice words).

What is your dream? What do you think your purpose is in life? Maybe it is a new career path. Maybe it is to travel more, or to learn a new skill. What are the little things you can do to take steps to seeing it become real. I may not happen in a day, but keep chipping away at it. The biggest advice I got was to do a few small things every day towards your goals, your dream.  These are called low cost probes. Little steps that give you a lot of reward. Experience, knowledge, insight, just about anything that will get you closer to your end goal. Then, go for it.

I would love to hear about your dream. Love for you to hear about mine. Share ideas, help one another and encourage one another to allow dreams to be reality. Comment here or text me 585-441-4610, can’t wait to here what dreams you’re chasing. 

Risk

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, stories, students, team building, Uncategorized

risk

 

Chances are you’ve taken a few risks in your life. Heck, simply asking my wife on our first date was a risk. I took a risk this weekend with the cheese in the fridge. Everyday life throws us opportunities and chances to play it safe or take a risk. Sure there are somethings that you don’t want to risk (like your marriage, or safety of your kids) and there are smarter ways to take a risk than others (like don’t quit your job until you have a lead on another). Yet, I am always amazed at how often those around me, and myself, simply choose the safe route. I may talk a big game, or prove my risk taking initiative by doing something just slightly more risky than usual, yet I am still where I am. And often I can feel stuck there. 

The courage to take a risk produces some of life’s best moments. Sure, there is never 100% chance of success, but that is why it is a risk. Think about it, that moment where you think of what you want to do, you visualize all the outcomes and failures and then say, “I’m in.” That moment, even with failure, brings out a sense of freedom and confidence in us as people. 

Working with youth, many of them face a lot of decisions. Some of these choices are small, but some are huge. What college to go to? Should I ask that girl out? Should I really eat 25 packets of Diablo sauce at Taco Bell on a bet? I remember one student being a romantic and really wanted to ask this girl out. He was super awkward, typical 15 year old. I just said, “do it, the worst that will happen is she says no, and you’ll be in the same situation you are right now, but at least you’ll know.”

That’s mostly what taking a risk is about, discovery. There is adventure and joy in that moment when you step out in order to take a risk you didn’t think you could.

Maybe it is a job change you’re thinking about. Or you have a new business idea. You want to ask that person out. You want to do something but are too nervous about the odds and the outcomes. You have had a dream in your mind for years, but have always thought it wouldn’t work out. 

If you’re like me you argue with yourself a lot. If you’re like me you try to wait for a “sign” from God. If you’re reading this, this is that sign. You’ll be surprised what God is capable off when you step into that risk that He has been nudging you towards.

Here are some things I do when I approach a big risk I am deciding on:

1.) Think it through and weigh the cost/benefits

2.) Ask people their thoughts, especially people who can ask you really tough questions

3.) Small cost probes, little things that give you a taste and experience with that new risk

4.) Close your eyes and jump

I would love to hear about some risks you dreaming about and think of ways to take that risk boldy. Follow us on twitter or Instagram at misfit_min, or leave a comment on here.

Come to Me

#misfits, #politics, church, community, empathy, Family Ministry, life, Ministry, misfits, stories, students, Uncategorized

immigrant

Jesus invites people into a relationship with Him. He invites them in close. Jesus could smell the disease on the lepers and  was close enough to get spit at from possessed man. He wasn’t afraid to share an intimate space with those that the society of His time viewed as outcasts, villains, sinners and those who people forgot about.

We are coming to this point here in our world today. Where we can choose to bring people in, care for them, love them and point them towards Jesus; or we can choose to turn people away, shun them, treat them as villains and abandon them.

Matthew 11:28 came to mind as I reflected on the last few days. I have heard a man, speaking on behalf of a faith, alienating another group of people. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to Me, ALL who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Over and over again Jesus invites all people in. The Good Samaritan would’ve been despised by the man he saved, yet he had compassion. Romans, a people group not too friendly with the Jews, would come to Jesus. In fact, Jesus commends a centurion for his faith.

We are blurring the lines of faith and politics. Faith always trumps politics. They are not the same. Sometimes, they agree and sometimes they disagree, but they are not the same. We contradict our faith and our beliefs with how we act. Our actions then are what seems best to us at the time, not led by our relationship with Jesus. I think it fitting that a plaque on the Statue of Liberty, a sight millions of immigrants would see coming to America, says this “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Jesus would say the same thing. 

My wife said something the other day and I loved it. She said “I don’t want someone in the name of my Savior, of my faith, to give me favor, or blessing, and take  away freedom, opportunity, safety, compassion from someone else. That is not what a christian does. It’s not how Jesus would have it.”

Remember, Jesus invited everyone to come to Him. He invites us still. As Misfits we see this. We see that the lines are blurred and many are asking questions. In these moment, push into Jesus. Ask for understanding and for words in the midst of heated discussion. Use your influence and your talents to point all people towards Jesus. Demonstrate care, compassion and   humility. Open the doors for the weary, the oppressed, the burdened, the refugees and point them to Jesus.

Here is a link to some thoughts on how to treat refugees and immigrants from Relevant Magazine. 

Empathy

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, life, Ministry, organizational strategy, stories, students, Uncategorized

1163143_orig

We will only go as far in bringing justice, peace and hope to our world as our ability to empathize with one another will carry us.

I don’t see unity. Even conversations about fast food restaurants are fueled by hate, fear and anger. I believe that we are a divided people. This division from where I sit comes from our inability to simply feel how someone else feels and see a situation from another persons perspective. From there, we fall short of standing up for someone once we have begun to empathize. We fall short of building connections and building bridges between people. We let our differences divide us.

Those differences come in many forms. We fall prey to the separation caused by political parties, race, religion, culture, upbringing, and who’s turn it is to do the dishes. When the spotlight is on the differences we often turn to anger and hatred towards that person which then leads us to dehumanize them. When this happens we are not able to empathize, we don’t even care. In the midst of the arguing we focus on our differences and not on those things that we all share.

We have a lot of things in common. We obviously feel that our view, our side, our team is the best and if we are the best then others are of lesser value, we are all people who are passionate about something. I often find that the emotions that spurn on peoples passions and views are often the same. We speak from experiences, hurts, doubts, and worries. The things that drive us are often times the things we hope to fix most. We experience things in life that have shaped our views. People have similar emotions even in the midst of the tension we share. Fear, confusion, anger, these things are shared by us in that moment. We also share the hope for something better than our current situation.We must use these similarities, however small, to help drive our ability to empathize with one another.

So how do you build or even find empathy? You fight for it. You look for the humanity in people. That little something that says, I know how you feel. We’ve all suffered loss, hurts, pains, we have all faced some tough stuff in our lives. We have all also seen great joy and triumph. We must listen to the stories of one another. Let those stories sink it and resonate with us. Discover the connections between one another, don’t just blow them off because it is different from you.

You should have people in your life that are different from you. They should look different, work in different industries, believe differently and even vote differently. Then take all those differences and share life together. Eat a meal, laugh, share life stories and love people for who they are, and not who you wish they would be.

Create safe space. Sometimes, we need to talk through our differences. We need to be humble enough to admit when we are wrong, vulnerable enough to admit our flaws and caring enough to not let these differences separate us. Listen to one another. Truly listen. Hear their hearts and their fears and not just wait for your turn to talk.

Our ability to empathize with one another is what will save the day. 

Prototypes

#misfits, Ministry, organizational strategy, purpose, systems, Uncategorized

1930-air-propelled-motorcycle-patent-charcoal-aged-pixel

     Getting unstuck can be difficult. Many people are frustrated with their jobs, their circumstances and feel like they are living without passion and joy. Wrestling with this myself at times, some great discussions with friends and learning about some different ways to design your life I have learned about the concept of prototyping.

     Prototyping is when you design a version of your life that you feel would bring you more joy, give you more passion and more success. Then through this design you begin to test out parts of these plans through prototyping. These are low-risk, high-reward, activities that help you gain perspective on new life paths that can help increase your joy. For instance, if you feel that being a professional musician is what you want to do, prototyping would find you signing up for some open mic nights in your local area. Here are a few steps to help get your life unstuck.

Odyssey Plan

     Bill Burnett at Stanford created the Odyssey Plan. In creating an Odyssey Plan you create a different variations of what you want your life to look like. The idea is there are multiple variations for what you could define as joyful and successful. So you start looking at those variations. First, you use design process to find and define the problem. Maybe it is not enough joy, you need more money, or you just feel stuck at your current position. Then, you begin to create a few variations of your life that brings you more joy, money, and passion. You think through the process to get that life and what it takes for each one. This helps create freedom and drive because you begin to get over the fact that you’re stuck and get forward momentum to create change.

Prototyping

     Once you have a few variations of what you feel your life should be it is time to start prototyping. You being by look at some of those steps you need to take in each variation. Look for ways to get more experience or more knowledge for those variations. This might take time but it is a process. Take a new class, volunteer at an organization, take on a new task, and be fearless and confident in the progress you make. Tweak your ideas with your successes and your failures. Those failures just bring you one step closer to your ultimate goal.

Just Move Forward

     I think the biggest way to get unstuck in life is simply to move forward. Find something you enjoy and work hard at it. Time is wasted when you sit, get in an emotional low and let the life that you hope for slip away. Think about the problems that you have no and begin to think of some solutions and start working toward your goals.

     It is never too late to try new things, chase after new goals and create new dreams. You start by finding the problem, dreaming up solutions, trying hard and keep going after it. Life is so much better when you live in the place where you are using your gifts, talents and passions in a way that brings about joy and meaning.

Fresh

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, life, students, systems, team building, Uncategorized

newyear

We have officially left 2016 in the dust. It’s 2017.

There are a mixed bag of emotions when a new year starts. Looking at social media it seems many people have had a rough go of things this past year. For others it was filled with joyous occasions and laughter. We lost a lot of good people. A lot more were born this year too. Yet, for all we enter into 2017 with renewed vitality. There are new goals, aspirations, and recommitments to ourselves and loved ones. This past week I have had some great conversations, found some rest, and am looking forward to 2017. Here are somethings that will help me make the best of this amazing year.

Goals

The week between Christmas and New Years I take some time to set goals. These goals are range in a variety of topics. I set personal goals often about working out, reading books, writing and personal projects. There are goals about my finances. These goals help me to stay motivated for the year and work towards a target. These goals usually span the entire year so they are long-term. I work hard to make them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-oriented). I can look at these goals throughout the year and check on progress.

Accountability

In the upcoming year I make sure to have people close to me to help hold me accountable. They hold me accountable to my goals but also to my faith and my personal struggles. Letting people into my world helps create authentic relationships. It is these relationships that have made 2016 an amazing year and I look forward to 2017. Accountability looks like making phone calls and meeting up with people. It is setting time aside to connect with another person and being honest and transparent with them. It is in these relationships that I look forward to an amazing 2017. 

Adventure

I love adventures. I drive my wife crazy because whenever we go somewhere I’m usually doing things I shouldn’t. Those areas beyond the “no visitors past this point” signs are usually where you can find me. In 2017 I hope to create some spontaneity and adventure to my life. This energizes me and I get to have fun. Adventure can be trips but it can also just be doing new things. Shake up your life in 2017. 

Loving others

My wife has created a monster. We have created a generosity fund that we use to love people. We both love to bless other people and see huge smiles on their faces. We set aside some of our paychecks in order to give to others. I believe that living a live that builds and encourages relationships with people is the sweet sauce of life. In 2017 I hope we can continue to love people and do some crazy things in faith with our finances. T

What do you look forward to this New Years? How can you make this the best year yet?

Students and Politics

adolescent, church, Family Ministry, life, Uncategorized

md-darkroom-stacks-p12

 

I woke up Wednesday morning to a new President. So did students across the country. I drove to work thinking about my students and how to approach the day. I thought about all the young people who have a lot of questions and just want to hear some honest answers. I thought about the people who were grieving the decision of our new President, and equally, those who were celebrating. I thought about my role as an educator, a champion of students, and as a believer in Jesus. Here are some ways I handled the day, the week and how I hope to handle the weeks ahead.

I aimed to create an environment that gives spaces to students but also communicated that I am present. Sometimes, people just need space to process, think, vent and sometimes grieve. As someone who influences the lives of students I try to give students space to think and reflect on their own. I helped to create space for students to feel their own feelings and think their own thoughts, free from persuasion. I communicate them that I respect them, love them and want to give them space to simply ‘be’ and that I am there when they need me.

A huge role for me this week was listening to the voices of students, educating about topics they were asking and encouraging them to stay informed. I want all students to one day be able to stand their ground with their faith and their position in our society. So, I encourage them to find their own voice and give them space to speak it. In class I gave time for students to write letters and post questions up on our class board. We spent all day talking. The entire class was engaged, they cared. There was fear, anger and confusion in that room. Most adults want to ignore their emotions because they are kids, and see them as illegitimate, but they are real emotions and they real kids, so I take them seriously. We helped to navigate those emotions and see where they came from. I helped to teach our students about our entire political system, and not just the Presidency. This honestly helped them. They saw hope in a moment they thought was hopeless. We talked about solutions, not just problems. Students sometimes have the best solutions when we give them an opportunity to speak them. They wanted to stay informed, asked for time each week to research politics, and wanted to find ways to engage the community they lived in

Students look up to me. I am amazed at the messes I make of my life and how God continues to use them to influence others. In the weeks to come I am to take action. Not just to talk about problems in my community but to find solutions. To continue to act out in faith, to question the status quo, the structures and policies that define our society. I want to act out in love. Show up for my students. Empower and encourage them to act out in love in our community. Demonstrate my love for them. For when they see my love for them it helps to show they matter to me. When the know they matter and know they are loved, they are empowered and find hope.

Whatever your political views and your thoughts we need to come together. Students are witnesses to our political and social climate in our nation. They have questions, and we should be of courage to answer them honestly.