Don’t miss the final episode of Karl and Gus’s Summer Podcast Series! In this final podcast Gus and I got to shoot the breeze with Larry Fowler, Awana’s Executive Director of Global Training. (wow!) But more importantly, a great guy who thinks biblically and communicates clearly the why’s and how’s of reaching and teaching children.
Karl and Larry at CPC 2008
I Wanna, You Wanna
Karl and Gus spend some time getting to know “A Wise And Neato Administrator,” aka AWANA’s Executive Director of Global Training, Larry Fowler. Learn more about what drives the author of Rock Solid Kids and the just-released Raising a Modern Day Joseph… as well as learn what “AWANA” doesn’t stand for!
If you have a passion for equipping parents to be the spiritual leaders of their kids and to see the children of your ministry grow into fully devoted disciples of Jesus, you need to hear what Larry Fowler has to say.
…I was stunned and confused. But, of course, I couldn’t admit it, not to the man whose daughter I had a growing affection for, so I stuttered and answered, “Well, none yet, but I hope to soon.” He answered, “Good, by next week I’d like you to be discipling at least three young men.” I agreed. Except I had no idea what he was talking about!
Here I was, a pastor’s son, and a student at one of the leading Bible colleges in the world, but when asked if I was discipling I was at a loss! So I ran to my “girlfriend” (though not officially so yet) and said, “Your dad wants me to be discipling three boys by next week! What do I do?” She was no help. She simply answered, “Well, just do it.” Again, I couldn’t admit that I had no idea what they were talking about! How did I tell this girl I was hoping to woo that I didn’t knowing what “discipleship” meant?
I was stuck. Discipleship was a word I heard and used a lot, but when confronted with being asked to actually do it I was stumped….
Over on DiscipleBlog.com I have launched a new series called D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.S.H.I.P. – Twelve Tips to help you become a more effective discipler of children. Here is the first one. To keep up with all twelve, subscribe to the DiscipleBlog.com RSS feed.
D = Develop a Relationship
“And He walks with me and He talks with me;
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there;
None other has ever known.”
Every notice that Jesus’ primary method of discipleship was based upon relationships? Jesus didn’t establish schools, write curriculum, or host seminars. While He certainly did teach the masses – he discipled in relationship with those who were close to Him, and it was THOSE disciples who turned the world upside down after He left them.
As I look back over some fifteen plus years of professional children’s ministry and many more years of just life ministry, it is those I discipled relationally who I see producing the greatest fruit. They are ones in Bible college, becoming missionaries, and going into ministry. While I am NOT assuming any credit for their godly choices, I am saying that being discipled prayed a part in their spiritual formation.
If you want to be a discipler of children, it is no secret that I recommend DiscipleLand if you are a church leader and would be delighted if you used Awesome Adventure as a tool for one on one studies, but the first thing you need is NOT curriculum – it is to build some relationships with kids that are deeper than the educational or “fun” level.
It may just be that some of your best disciples you never formally “discipled” through printed lessons – you just walked with them and became a part of their spiritual journey.
Whether you lead an entire children’s ministry with hundreds of children or teach a small class or volunteer in a club with a small group – pray through your kids and ASK GOD TO SHOW YOU A CHILD YOU CAN HAVE A DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH. And become their friend, not just their leader or teacher.
Jesus is my Master, my Lord, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Creator and my Guide, but best of all He is my Friend – and it is that relationship that spurs on my spiritual growth. Yoy may be many things to the kids in your ministry, but when you become their friend, you begin to truly impact their spiritual walk.
What does a friendship with a child look like?
You know their name
You know about their family
You have some common interests
You pray for them
You look for them
You ask them relational questions
You get together with them
You remember their important dates
You love them unconditionally
Take some time and think through the kids God has brought into your life – is there one or two that you could pour your life in to? A few you could become a friend to? That you could disciple intentionally? The impact on their life is indescribable!
Well, those who have played with me may not agree that what I do on the course qualifies as “golf” – but I think I have discovered a sport that I can really enjoy. And now that I have discovered a beautiful par 3 nine hole course near my house that cost just a little more than a movie I think its something I can finally afford to do. (The other ones near my house are between $32 and $78 for a round of 18 holes.)
I have a long and painful history with golf. As a boy I broke a frame on the wall in my house showing my sister how to swing a golf club. (To hide the dent in the metal frame I turned the picture upside down and rehung the frame upside down so the bent was on the bottom. It took my Mom less than fifteen minutes upon getting home to ask, “How did this frame get dented?” Little sister was all too happy to explain. Busted.)
My grandfather tried to teach me. (see his clubs here) Once at the driving range I humiliated him when my sweaty hands allowed the club to fly out into the driving range further than any ball I’d hit! They had to shut down the entire driving range so I could go retrieve my club much to Grampa’s embarrassment.
About ten years ago an advice golfer at my church tried to interest me in the sport. (Dan LaPorte, who once hit his mother-in-law with a plastic golf ball shot from the platform during a worship service promoting a church golf outing. He swears he didn’t aim for her!) My lessons weren’t going to well. One one hole I put five or six balls in a row into the water we had to shoot over to the green.
Then I had my break through!
Dan got out $20 and said, “Hit the next one in the water and I’ll give you twenty bucks.” I thought, “Has this guy been watching? That’s the dumbest bet ever!” I teed up and aimed for the water – and my ball soared over and onto the fare way beyond! “Let the club do the work, it’s not a baseball bat,” he said.
Then we moved away and I didn’t get to golf again for ten years… but that $20 (that I didn’t get) lesson stuck with me!
While I’m still not much of a golfer, I’m enjoying learning and find it a very fascinating sport in this regard. He more relaxed I am, and the less I try to hit it hard, the better I do. My best shots consistently are those when I almost don’t try, and just keep my eye on the ball and swing. Not hard, just swing using the right form.
I’m finding the same is true in life. When I try to work hard, minister hard, or do anything hard, I mess up the Game of Life really bad. My life ‘handicap’ is pretty high and filled with a lot of shots into the rough, or the water, and off the course. But when I keep my focus on the Lord, and just swing my best, focused on my spiritual form, not my talents, power or skill – God does the work and I do so much better in the Game of Life.
I’m sure I’ll never be a great golfer. But I’m going to stick with it, because I find it is teaching me a lot about life, and when I’m outside away from the distractions of life and work, I can better hear God’s still small voice.
I’m looking for golf buddies if you live in the area and don’t mind playing with someone who will make you look really good.
I know at many churches I’ve seen Speed Stack cups available to kids, but they often don’t know what to do with them if they’ve not been taught. But with the BattleStack any kids can instantly start to play using the BattleStack cards. What a GREAT GAME to make available for the kids that are early or hanging around afterwards waiting for Mom and Dad to get them! (Hint: you need at least two!)
OK! I finally have a completely free day without meetings or anything toooo urgent, so I’m at the library to try and get a grip on my life and the swirling tasks, projects and never ending to-dos!
In one sense, I’m in a good place. I’m doing a lot better at putting family first, but now work is starting to slip into the chaos of the tyranny of the urgent. That’s better than when I never got around to some home duties, now I’ve kinda flipped the other way where every day at work is driven more by my e-mail inbox than intentional strategic tasks.
Well, that ends TODAY with Operation Order. (Operation Chaos is concluding)
I’m blogging this for my own accountability and to outline my plan, which may overflow into two days:
Step 1: IDENTIFY
A stack of 3×5 cards awaits the names of products or areas or people clammiring for my time, attention, thought and action.
Step 2: DEFINE
A new blank notebook will donate a page to each area identified in Step 1 to define it’s purpose, priority and place in my life.
Step 3: DETAIL
Next I will detail the tasks and action steps required for success on that area or realm of life and ministry.
Step 4: SCHEDULE
Now the rubber meets the road: scheduling my calendar with when I will focus on what so that I am the one determining my focus each day.
Step 5: STRATEGIZE
Finally, I will evaluate what arenas, tasks, projects are activities provide the most Value to me and my ministry’s mission, and then harshly determine what needs to be eliminated, delegated or postponed and determine how to best combat the things that will most certainly seek to distract from the resulting plan from Operation Order.
There are not enough hours in each day so you know you will always have to procrastinate on something. The trick is to force yourself to choose to procrastinate on the small things in order to get things done.
Don’t clear up the small things first! Resist the temptation- we often underestimate how the small things add up and seemingly never end (especially e-mail)!
Choose to do the most valuable and important first. Place value on the items you need to accomplish each day. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of what you do is the least valuable, while 20% is the most valuable.
Do it tomorrow! Work on the e-mails and phone messages that came in yesterday and file today’s away for tomorrow. The benefit is that when your mailboxes are empty, you are done for the day regardless of what comes in! For example, I created a “Do Today” email box and a “Do Tomorrow” e-mail box and file e-mails accordingly. This helps limit expectations others have of you. It is way too easy to get in a trap of pleasing people immediately. The problem is that our own work piles up until we have to work many hard and late hours to catch up.
Learn to say “no.” Say no to the things that are not of high value to your goals. Look at your tasks as the following: Must, Should, Nice, Delegate, Eliminate.
Identify your constraints. One major cause of procrastination is a feeling of inadequacy and a lack of confidence. What is holding you back from achieving your purpose quickly and well done?
“Creative Organization” might seem like an oxymoron since the stereotypical creative type lives and works in a clutter of chaos (whether on desktop actual or desktop virtual) only coming up for the occasional snack of hummus. But the truth is organization for the creative can be quite freeing and well…creative!
Plan everyday in advance. Whether the night before or right before you dive in- planning out your day and working from that list can help you work on your own time versus being reactive to whatever daily interruptions you endure. When things come up- add it to the list and practice your creative procrastination skills! Also it would be good to work from multiple lists (in Basecamp, HighRise or BackPack) such as: Master List, Monthly List, Weekly List and Daily List.
Create imaginary deadlines. Deadlines are evil! Okay, maybe that is overreacting. But they are often used by creatives to procrastinate in a non-productive and non-creative way. How many times have you waited right up until a deadline is looming to finish something? Sure deadlines can motivate you like nothing else…but at what cost? They often cause unnecessary and self-created stress and mistakes. Try to think of work in this scenario often: “I just won a cruise to the Bahamas but I have to leave next week to claim it.” How would that change your pace and priorities?
Create a “Bucket List.” No not the kind of list made popular by a recent movie! Have a habit of writing all of your commitments in “buckets” or categories and review your them often. It doesn’t matter what kind of bucket it is…computer, paper, audio, video…whatever works for you. Make it fun! Some buckets might be home, work, a specific big project, etc.
I know I am late, but I wanted to post this testimony from Tony Snow for my own keep-sake. Tony was a powerfully articulate speaker (my favorite Rush Limbaugh substitute) who was appreciated and admired by friends and foes alike. I learned so much from him about how our country works. He made me proud to be an American and understood the issues of today better than most and supported his positions with facts and logic instead of just angry emotion like so many of his opponents. And he was always upbeat and positive and respectful. Below is his testimony as he was dying of cancer. (FYI: the same cancer that took my mom at the same age: 53. Way too soon for both of them.)
Tony Snow’s last televised briefing. Photo by Getty Images
This is an outstanding testimony from Tony Snow, President Bush’s former Press Secretary, and his fight with cancer. Commentator and broadcaster, Tony Snow, announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush Administration in April, 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23, 2007, Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen, – leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but later resigned, ‘for economic reasons,’ and to pursue ‘ other interests.’
Tony Snow’s Testimony (prior to his death July 12, 2008)
‘Blessings arrive in unexpected packages – in my case, cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases – and there are millions in America today – find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence ‘What It All Means,’ Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations. The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the ‘why’ questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this, – or because of it, – God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere. To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life, – and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non believing hearts – an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly and exuberantly – no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, – smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension – and yet don’t. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
‘You Have Been Called’. Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. ‘It’s cancer,’ the healer announces. The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. ‘Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.’ But another voice whispers: ‘You have been called.’ Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter, – and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our ‘normal time.’ There’s another kind of response, although usually short-lived an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There’s nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, – for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do. Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God’s love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples’ worries and fears.
‘Learning How to Live’. Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God’s arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love. I sat by my best friend’s bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was a humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. ‘I’m going to try to beat [this cancer],’ he told me several months before he died. ‘But if I don’t, I’ll see you on the other side. ‘His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, – filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms. Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, – to speak of us! This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God’s hand.’
I’m sitting in the auditorium at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit live in Barrington, IL, and just met a fellow MacBook Air user in the atrium blogging, so we swapped blog addresses and I returned to get a good seat. (enjoying free WiFi!) Anyway, I LOVED a post on his blog, and wanted to share it with you here.
(From Patrick Mayfield. I originally linked to his post, but he keeps moving it, so I have posted the rest here so I don’t have to keep updated it.)
1. Only a few people are creative
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are probably right.”
I’m not sure who said that, but it sums up what I have come to realise about each of us in the matter of being creative.
Ultimately this myth is perpetuated by a negative and self-fulfilling perception of oneself. Our self-perception as ‘uncreative’ people is probably due to an unchallenged internal script from our critical faculties. When we have attempted something creative in the past, the script may have run something like this:
“You see? That’s pathetic! I can’t be creative…”
Many say, “I can’t draw”; then coaches such as Betty Edwards come along and prove that this is simply not true. With careful and sensitive coaching people can break through this limiting self-belief.
2. Creativity is a solo pursuit
This is probably the Myth that causes many of us to make such little progress, and also to miss true creativity when it happens in groups. Research by Doug Hall and others has shown that creativity happens best in groups. Measured by the volume of ideas generated, this always improves exponentially in groups, the more diverse the better. People with unlike experiences, backgrounds, personalities and strengths are far more fertile in creative exercises that homogeneous groups or individuals.
I know that in my Company, I’m always more creative sparking off ideas with colleagues who come at things from a different angle.
3. Creativity happens best when you ‘think outside of the box’
‘Think outside of the box’ has become such an accepted cliche, particularly in business circles. But is it really true? Surprisingly perhaps, when people work within given constraints – even apparently extreme ones – the quality and depth of the creativity is often far superior. It is as if the constraints themselves stimulate ideas. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” the old adage goes. See my Power Presenting Lens for examples of this in the areas of presentations, where shorter presentations, with minimalist visual design constraints have a more powerful impact.
4. When you suffer from a ‘Creative Block’, there is nothing you can do but wait for it to pass
So how do those in the ‘creative’ professions manage? Robert Fritz has shown that this is far from the reality of their work-a-day lives. Their approach is matter of professional discipline. They first generate drafts, sketches, roughs, etc. and in volume.Their discipline is to do this whilst suspending their critical faculties. Then later they go through this material, rejecting, amending, editing and shaping. The rhythm of their work is that they do not confuse the two modes – creating and critiquing – at the same time.
As a public speaker my first rehearsal is always poor. I have learned not to let that worry me. I come back, hone it, shape it, as a creative process.
Learning to create is much about learning to trust oneself in the first phase and to ‘switch off’ the critical part of one’s brain during drafting.
5. My first idea is likely to be the best one
This is really a derivative of myths 1 and 4. Roger Von Oech looks for the second idea. Someone who is comfortable with the creative process can work in a group to push for the generation of ideas past the first one, often to something that could be a truly breakthrough idea. The rest of us are inclined to halt at the first idea that grabs us, and then give up when it fails.
6. Love me, love my idea
T his is where we confuse our own identity with the ideas we champion. An idea becomes ‘my baby’. It gets personal.
“A painting is never finished. It just stops in interesting places.”
Great artists can stand back from their work – even their ‘finished’ work – and stand shoulder to shoulder with the critics, objectively evaluating it. This requires some emotional maturity; to see that our ideas are not us. We attain greater agility of thinking in the creative process when we are not too emotionally wedded to any idea we may have come up with. Let’s be passionate about taking an idea as far as we can, but not to die at the stake for it.
61/2. Creativity is a serious business
This Myth is only half true. CS Lewis wrote, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Regarding Creativity, I’d paraphrase that to:
“Fun is the serious business of creativity.”
In a way, the business of Creativity is serious. Our survival depends on our ability to create and grow. If the Global Warming Lobby are right, then we need to get seriously creative about how we use the scarce resources on this planet. It is serious.
However, Creativity happens best when we are positive, and having fun. It helps us to consider the hilarious, outrageous and ludicrous long enough to spot that breakthrough idea.
Some business settings are so threatening, stuffy and boring that I’m amazed people’s brains just don’t shut down altogether. The fight or flight response literally takes oxygen from our brains to our muscles for fight or flight. Not good for creativity, though.
No, Creativity happens best when it is Fun! When it is playful! We need to return to that wisdom where ancient kings valued the fool, the jester. Even Napoleon valued his Fool, whom he consulted on important messages in the heat of battle.
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey