Jesus Shows Us The Key To Deeper Relationships

Passion is  a surface level emotion that acts like a valve to let off steam. There are terms like “an act of passion” when referring to an affair that just sort of happened or when someone kills someone  due to a” fit of passion”.

Both incidents are  surface level reactions that happen in the moment.  Jesus wasn’t like that. Jesus did not react so much as he responded.; and when he responded, he responded deeply and with conviction.

Jesus lost a friend, Lazarus.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  John 11:33

Such as Jesus’ response to his friends passing, that John, the author, saw fit to mention Jesus’ response again.

[ Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead ] Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.  John 11:38

Jesus was someone who took initiative in his relationships. He invited people into his life rather than waiting to be invited.

He invited fishermen and tax collectors to follow him

He invited Peter to come to Him on the water.

He invited Thomas touch his hands and sides.

He invites all us who are wear and heavy laden to come unto Him.

Jesus lived and open life, inviting all kinds people to be a part of it.

If we want depth in our relationships, we will have to be the initiators.

For all my posting, videos, etc. I am a very private person. I like my world ordered and chaos is not welcome. This is why I, or you, do not like this idea  opening up.

Invitations are not only invites to opportunity but to rejections or worse chaos. Our decision to let someone in, could turn our hold world upside down. Maybe that’s the point, Maybe, in order deepen our lives, a little chaos must come and challenge us.

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? Tony Robbins

No one is going to do it for us. Our initiative is an expression of our love. We have to move, open up, and invite others into our lives if we want to add depth to our days. An open life is an invitation to new worlds, and yes, a little chaos.

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Stubborn Youth Pastors Always Win

Welcome back! This is my fourth post in my attempt to convince you that you’re an artist. You may be a youth pastor, a small group leader, a                         bi-vocational youth worker who does plumbing on the side, or a volunteer youth worker. You are all artists in your own way.

You can read my premise for you being an artist by starting at Real Youth Workers Don’t Starve. This series is based on the book by Jeff Goins called Real Artists Don’t Starve that helps creative people, like youth pastors, embrace the the artist title.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book and read along with me.

Let me clarify my title: Stubborn Youth Pastors, Who Are Stubborn About The Right Things, Always Win.

Stubbornness is not obstinance. Youth Pastors should not be stubborn just to be in the way to be a block to progress. Youth Pastors should be stubborn on principles things and flexible on details.

We all need the ability to persevere and maintain passion for long-term goals despite adverse circumstances—or what Angela Duckworth calls “grit.” – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve

We have to be stubborn when it comes to working with teens because, well, teens are stubborn bunch and we must match their stubbornness with a stubborn kind of love.

“No matter how much you miss youth group, I’ll always save a sit for you”

“No mater how much you resist me, I will always be welcoming”

“No matter how much you choose the wrong thing, I will love you and help you choose the right thing.”

This is the same kind of stubbornness parents have with their kids. As youth workers, we should match our teens stubbornness with godly stubbornness. the Bible called this long-suffering.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed,“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and egracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6

God stubbornly, puts up with our mess and  loves us still.  This is a youth workers kind of stubbornness.

What does all this have to do with me being an artist Paul? Simple, we design programs that give us the opportunity to connect with students so we can show teens this kind of stubborn love long term. We have to be stubborn about the principles of youth ministry, not the details.

Here are a few examples  of where my stubbornness comes in when designing   any youth program.

I am stubborn about who is on my team

I don’t let adults just hang out (other than parents) because they don’t want to go got Wednesday night service. I they are downstairs with me, they have a purpose or they are not there.

I recently had to tell an adult they could not come downstairs any more because they were avoiding all the parameter set to be a volunteer for me

  • Be in the adult service on Sunday for x amount of time
  • Be in the adult Wednesday night service for x amount of time
  • Go through our partnership class

There are a few other standards we have,  but the point is that we have set up standards to first keep students safe from just anyone being a part of the youth program. Second, I want to make sure the leaders we have are mature enough to lead kids into faith, If an adult cannot go through a class, come to service on Sunday morning consistently, they I do not feel they will be a good fit on our program that expects them to lead kids by example.

I am stubborn on discipline

I knew I shouldn’t have let this kid come on the retreat because of his age, but his mother sweet talked me into it; I felt I had to give him chance. I have him Several chances but after having him make a few calls to his parents, I had to ask his mom to come pick him up.

Things like camp, missions trips, and even the weekly meeting only go well when we are all on the same page, or at least in the same book. Sometimes we all have to pull a kid aside, have the talk, and most of them time that settles it. There are other times when we have to make the phone call, send. kid up to their parents, tell a kids “no, I don’t think you’re ready for this.” . All of this discipline is designed to help kids grow in character and faith and secondly to keep the program or trip on track.

Stubbornness like this is a stubbornness that my Pastor, my parents, and even the students appreciate because they know I will do my best to help the kids who need help and make event worthwhile for everyone. A lack of stubbornness on some things, like discipline, causes an unease and a mistrust of our leadership.

I am stubborn on keeping the door open 

When a kid leave my youth ministry, its not the end of ministry with that kid. I have launched out students to go to other youth ministries because those youth ministries offered them opportunities that I could not.

These same kids who leave or that I launch, I’ll run into at the store or they may hit me up for advice online. I am stubborn on this because it’s easer to just close the door and pretend like those kids don;t exist any more, but they do and God may not be finished with me and them yet.

We have to be stubborn because the opposite of stubbornness is complacency, weakness, and irresolute. I always want to be stubborn about the things that matter not the details that don’t. We can be stubborn and flexible.

Steve jobs was stubborn on design.

Edison was stubborn on the creating the lightbulb

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon,  is stubborn about the culture he creates.

We are creators and creators but must be stubborn, not about everything, but about the right thing.

When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.  – Jeff Goins Real Artists Don’t Starve 

Our stubbornness, about the right things in our youth ministry, will only lead to the right people taking notice and supporting what we create; and isn’t that what we want?

Catch the fifth post over here: The Creative Church, The One Every Artist Wants To Be A Part Of 

 

What are you stubborn about in your youth ministry?

Why do you need to be more flexible about in your youth ministry?

 

 

 

 

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We All Used To Think This Way, Until…

We thought we were unique, we weren’t

We thought we were original, we weren’t

We thought we were the first, we weren’t

We thought we were going to change everything, we didn’t

We thought we had what it took, we didn’t

We thought we were equipped for anything, we weren’t

We thought we had the best idea, we didn’t

We thought we were ready for the next level, we weren’t

We thought we were better than everyone else, we’re weren’t

We thought we were bulletproof, we weren’t

We though we were immortal, we aren’t

It’s not if you think these things are true or not, it’s what you do next when you discover they are true.

Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth”.

What do you do after you’ve been punched in the mouth, when your plan is destroyed, when things don’t work out, when you discover the truth, that is  the moment you discover who you really are.

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How Come No One Told Me?

Growing up…

No one told me that I’d be second guessing everything at 49

No one told me it was ok to switch directions.

No one told me its was ok to pursue something different.

No one told me it was ok to have many dreams, not just one.

No one told me that it was ok to let go.

No one told me it was ok to fail.

No one told me life could be more flexible than rigid.

No one told me that loyalty wouldn’t get me anywhere.

No one told me my mentors would be authors and YouTube personalities.

No one told me, “Just wait, the best is yet to come”

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Maybe they did, and I just wasn’t listening.

I’m listening now.

 

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We Do Have A Choice

“One of the consequences of sin is that it makes the sinner pity himself instead of causing him to turn to God. One of the first signs of new life is that the individual takes sides with God against himself.” ― Donald Grey Barnhouse

Jesus challenged his disciples:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

We have to choose a side. There is nothing in me that wants to take up a cross or follow Jesus. It is God who impresses on me the necessity of this things, like another waking up their children for school. They would much rather stay under warm covers and sleep than to be obedient.

We have no problem choosing between

fear and faith

joy or sadness

salad or dessert

We know which is in our best interest. It is when Christ offers us

a narrow road or a wide road

a narrow gate or a wide gate

seek the Kingdom or seek our own fortune

The Apostle Paul tells us there is a  choice between feeding and leading from our  Flesh or Spirit

We can choose, but most of the time we choose in our own best interest.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

Knowing the end of one of our choices should makes our choosing all the more easy.

 

 

 

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3 Tragedies of a Complacent Life

The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities. – Benjamin E. Mays

The first tragedy of complacency is regret. No one says at the end of there life,  wish I did  less. I wish I wouldn’t have been so daring. I wish I hadn’t taken so many chances. There will come a day where we’ll beg for one more opportunity to make a difference.

in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.  – John Krakauer,  Into The Wild

The second tragedy of complacency is that our adventurous spirit shrivels up and we condition ourselves to pursue what is comfortable and secure. To prevent this kind of tragedy we must regularly do something where the outcome is unsure.

Christians are as subject to complacency as anybody else, and we can certainly settle into repetition and forget that something radical and extraordinary is being asked of us – Francis Spufford

The third and final tragedy is that we traded God’s call to be extra-ordinary for a life of predictability. We went to church but we did not become The Church. We sang songs, but we did not worship. We gave in the offering but we did not go and help the people ourselves.

A tame faith is not what God created us for. Let’s get back to looking and listening for God’s next great adventure for our lives.

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The Best Summer Job Ever!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time you know I love camp, and not just any camp, Life For Youth Camp to be exact.

They’re looking for summer counselors and, if you are a youth worker,  I’d like you to consider sharing this post with your college students and graduating seniors as a possible place of ministry this summer.

I took to Facebook Live the other night to share my testimony of the camp. Take a listen and if it sounds like a great place for your students to work, please let them know. Here’s the link to apply. 

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Audit Your Circle

If you’ve kept up with this blog you know there are a few people I like to quote, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk (where I got audit your circle), etc. and none of them are Christians, let alone Pastors. “So, why do you quote them Paul?” Because they’re saying things in a fresh way that I do not hear Pastor’s saying.

“You’re not listening the right Pastor’s Paul” maybe not. The deal is,  I’ve audited my circle. There are people I could listen to, good dudes who love God but they’re not winning like I want win. They’ve accepted the status quo and preach it like it’s something new. Not my style.

They, like many Christians I know, have the same tired platitudes to offer when times get tough like “Just have faith” etc. I have faith, now I want action to match that faith. Very few preachers, I know, are action driven. Knowledge, learning, systems, are great, but they don’t move the ball down the field, advancing the Kingdom.

I listen to voices outside my circle because they’re doing what I want to do. I want to say things in a fresh way to a generation who has given up on God and even the concept of God because they were spoon fed these same platitudes for years that were suppose to sustain them and they did not, not because the information wasn’t good but because there was so little action to match it.

For those looking for any kind of scriptural reference, let me point to

“Bad company corrupts good morals”  I Corinthians 13:33

Hanging around people without dreams, visions,  imagination, or passion is as equally corrupting as hanging around with drunkards, criminals, and devil worshippers.

Any circle you’re in, religion, business, sports, etc, has it’s own language. You get to know it pretty well and then you start throwing the words around your self. This kind of insulation can stifle true action, true creativity, true “this is scary” kind of dreams.

People like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and others like them , are not Pastors, but they are preachers, and I am listening.

If you’re wanting to learn more about Seth Godin I recommend starting with his book Purple Cow.

If you want to know more about Gary Vaynerchuk I recommend The Thank You Economy 

Who’s  in your circle? Are they winning the way you want to win?

Who do you need to get out of our circle?

Is it possible you need a whole know circle? Who would be in it?

You can catch more of my thoughts in the FB Live Devotion

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I’m A Youth Pastor First

I have been cranking out quite a bit of content lately and boy is my throat and fingers tired lol. In case you did not know, this is what my schedule kind of looks like in an average week.

Up at 6:00 a.m. (most days)

Morning Facebook Live Devotion (10-15 minutes)

Create a 2-3 videos a week of YouTube (almost to 1300 subs)

Write 3-4 Blog Posts

Work on message series

Work on podcast

You may ask, “Paul, with all this, how do you have time for youth ministry?” That’s easy, I’m a youth pastor first and foremost. The needs of the kids in our ministry come first. There have been weeks where I haven’t posted anything, anywhere, because I was 100% focused on the church and our youth.

You see, I’m a youth pastor who happens to make videos, write stuff, and make podcasts; not the other way around.

My passion for other youth workers and their needs is somewhere around 9-10 in a top 10 list. One day that may change, but for now, I minister to teenagers and my community full time and create on the side.

I’m not going to lie, creating, speaking, to youth workers, etc. is very tempting, especially if I am not liking the direction of our youth ministry or I just don’t want to deal with an issue.; but when kids hug you before leaving the youth meeting, get inspired and tell they want to start a drama team, and laugh at your lame jokes, it’s easy to know where my treasure is.

Scripture says:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34

Where is your treasure right now?

Is there anything competing for your heart? What?

How do you deal with the tension?

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One Too Many Battles Has Led To This

I was thinking about why I’m so touchy lately and this thought came to me.

“My armor is broken”

I’ve already discussed, in a previous post, that I am in the midst of a period of burnout. This probably means I have some vulnerable spots where sharp words and poison darts can’t at me.

Broken Armor is simply a metaphor for one too many battles fought both inwardly and outwardly. My armor just hasn’t held up and my armor bearers are few.

I replace my own shields, my own weapons, and my own armor. I dress myself for battle. I have exposed spots where dagger and sword slip through. Things like unkind words, sarcasm, cold looks, self doubt find their mark.

We all have some kind of armor; some way we protect ourselves from life’s pains. The armor protects us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Over time, my armor has worn away, been damaged, become useless or rusted; leaving openings for strikes that harm me, wound me, and sometimes kill me.

I’ll take inventory of my spiritual armor via Ephesians 6 and seek others to inspect me before the next battle, but this warrior has lost his taste for blood.

Maybe the answer is to wear no armor at all. Quit protecting myself. Quit gearing up of for battle and go armor-less into the fray.

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

Jesus loved not his own life to the very end.

My prayer

God, my armor is broken. My sword is shattered.

Let not my enemies rule over me, or find my weaknesses.

The battle waits for no one. It rages on around me.

Strengthen me, guard me, keep me.

 

 

 

 

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