My Top 10 Favorite Podcasts (at the moment)

It’s #InternationalPodcastDay and I thought I’d share some of of my favorite podcasts. I try to be balanced between business, fun, and ministry because life is not one thing, it’s many things.

The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Carey is a pastor of. fairly large church in Canada. This is a fairly new podcast, for me, but I’m enjoying the diversity of guests.

Creating Disney Magic with Lee Cockerell

This is also a new podcast for me. Lee is a former executive with Disney and Marriott. He brings some great down home advice on deal with various issues from HR to planning.

The Deliberate Creative with Amy Climer 

Amy talks about leadership and team dynamics but, as the name implies, has a strong emphasis on creativity.

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

Jeff is a best selling author but also a very good conversationalist. Jeff’s easy going manner and focus on practicality make this a listen I look forward to.

Youth Ministry After 9 Podcast 

I don’t listen to a ton of youth ministry podcasts, but these guys are super real and fun.

The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast

These guys are a ton of fun. They have great team dynamics as they talk about board and table top games.

The Showrunner

If you are a show runner of your own podcast, like I am, what better podcast than a show about podcasts.  Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor  break it down abut what means to run a podcast. It’s certainly upped my game.

Six Pixels of Separation

When I am looking for something a little headier, Mitch Joel does not disappoint. He comes at things from different angles and ask great questions.

The Fizzle Show 

I’ve been listening to these guys from almost the beginning. I have been with them through host changes and they never miss a beat. They are a great team to have around business table;

Ask Pat with Pat Flynn

This is the shortest podcast I listen to. Pat is direct and answers one question in just a few minutes. The questions are usually ones I am asking myself.

That’s it, these are my favorite podcasts of #internationalpodcastday. What are yours? What do you recommend?

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Halfway Is The Problem

It sounds great when we say things like,

I’ll meet you half way.

I’ll give you half my sandwich.

We won the lottery! I’ll give you half.

But there are plenty of things you don’t want half of.

Would you like to have half sex? Nope.

I’ll drive you halfway. Not good.

I’ll pay you half now. What?

No one advises us, “If you want to be successful, give it your half”

Half measures won’t fix anything.

Half-heartedness won’t impress anyone.

Half assed execution won’t get the job done.

Half doesn’t cut it in real life so why do we give, on most occasions, half of our selves to God, to our marriage, to our kids? Half won’t cut it if we want to impact the world.

Half doesn’t cut it in youth work either. We can’t preach half a gospel. There’s good news and bad news. Heaven and hell, judgement and grace, flesh and spirit. Life is is not made up of halves but wholes.

Loving and serving half way will not make a dent in the universe.

Jesus gave all of Himself. He didn’t get beaten and then skip the crucifixion. He didn’t just love the Jews but also the Gentiles. He served the zealot as well as the tax collector. He fully died and then fully rose.

God doesn’t do things halfway.

He forgives all our sins.

He loves the whole world.

He doesn’t make half promises.

There is no halfway Christianity.

Therefore, we must love God with our whole hearts and all of our neighbors as our selves. Anything less won’t make a difference and only shows half of who our God really is.

 

 

 

 

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31 Faces Of Fear

Think of all the things you’re afraid of. Most will never come true, except for maybe death. How do you handle the real fears? Not the clowns or the spiders (yet, for some, its very real) but the real fear like never having close friends or being alone. These are real fear to us and they’re real to the teens we minister to.

How we handle our fear is measured by the risks we take. The more risks we take the more our fears are exposed as frauds.

We don’t take risks because we fear the outcome, we fear failure and we fear public opinion. We’re not that much different than teens are we? We still have these small fears just in bigger bodies.

I want my students to try everything. Not the bad stuff, the stuff they’re afraid of. Why? Because I want their fears to be shown as frauds and Satan a liar and defeated foe. If they can learn that now, how many more risks will they take wen they get older?

What if our teens became fearless like Samuel

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” I Samuel 14:6

And what if their fearlessness became contagious? Like how Samuel’s armor bearer responded.

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” I Samuel 14:7

Samuel had no idea of the outcome, but he knew God

Could act on their behalf

Nothing could hinder the Lord from saving

Their big or small number did not limit God

And because he knew this, it was worth the effort, the risk, the act of faith.

Turns out Samuel was right.

Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. I Samuel 14:13,14

The month of October is all about scary horror movies, Halloween, etc. We know those things aren’t real so we focus on them for 30 days. The fears we and our teens face are year round; that’s why I put together a resource that combines scary and scripture,

For 31 days I’m going to post a graphic that combines a horror movie trop (fake) with a Scripture that reveals  God’s nature and character to save, to protect, and to empower (real)

I want to challenge my kids for the next 31 days to be fearless, to be bold, to say. “What if…” and “God could…” instead of “I can’t, because…”.

You could do the same. What if you did? What conversations might arise? What misconceptions could you put to rest? What boldness could you instill? What could God do?

If you’re interested,  you can check the the 31 Faces of Fear here.

 

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Don’t Give Your Whole Life To Youth Ministry

Vanity

meaningless

a chasing after the wind

Are all themes of the book of Ecclesiastes and only now am I realizing that this also applies to youth ministry.

When I read verses like

And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless Ecclesiastes 2:19

I realize how futile my efforts are if youth ministry is indeed what I have given my whole life to.

When I started youth ministry, I thought youth ministry was immune to the wails and woes of Ecclesiastes (how naive I was), and I threw myself at it with great abandon. I’ve given my whole life to young people, but I should have given my whole life to Jesus.

No, I don’t worship ministry, although I have. Yes, I love Jesus, but some days I’ve loved the gratification of man’s words to satisfy my soul rather than the gentle whisper of my Savior.

I’m learning, and re-learning, every day, how to commit my life to Jesus and the eternal rather than the ministry and the temporal. I am taking Solomons advice

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:24,25

There is no enjoyment of ministry without God.

Youth Ministry, like any career,  will only take you so far, satisfy you so much, before you start to have those “What is this all about”, Solomon kind of thoughts.

If you’re a young youth pastor, don’t give your whole life to youth ministry because youth ministry can only give so much back to you. If you’re a veteran youth worker, it’s a good time to re-commit your life to Jesus.

Give your life to Jesus, find joy in him and you will receive more than you ever though possible and, unlike youth ministry

“those who put their trust in Him are never disappointed.” Romans 10:11 NASB

 

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The Desperate Need To Encourage Yourself

I have been in a hole for some time. A deep hole of discouragement and doubt. This mindset is a crippling mental bear trap that once you’ve step in it, it’s tough to get out of it. I’m only now returning to the idea of encouraging myself as a way to dig myself out.

You would think it’s simple, right? Say nice things about yourself and the dark cloud goes way. It’s not that easy. You have to actually believe the things you’re saying to get anywhere. So,  grab a shovel, and join me as I dig myself out right in front of you.

The first thing I discovered is the I must admit what is not true about me. I can’t say I’m a great singer if I am not a great singer. Lying to myself only deepens the hole.

The key is not to focus on the negative,  but to see simply nod at them as if to say, “I see you over there, you’re real, but you’re not my focus.”

Next, I have to know what is true about me. I’m making two lists, one is a skill based list and the other is character based list. This is so important,  I am not my job or my skills. My human qualities are what enhances by skill not the other way around. Example: I am not a kind person because I am a Pastor, I am a kind person and this makes me a good Pastor.

Third, I draw from what others have told me about myself. They were not just being kind, they actually meant it and I have to take the affirmative things people say to heart rather than brush them off. Based on this, here are my lists.

Character List

  • I am honest.
  • I am kind.
  • I am generous.
  • I am helpful.
  • I am creative.
  • I am an encourager.
  • I am caring
  • I am faithful.

If you’re like me, you’re tempted to stop because it sounds like you’re bragging. This is the point. You brag on yourself, to yourself, because no one else is encouraging you. So, don’t stop (I will stop here because you probably already know how awesome I am).

Skill List

  • I am a good writer and improving.
  • I am good at creating positive programs.
  • I am a good video editor and improving
  • I am great communicator and improving.
  • I am good at breaking down complicated ideas and thoughts.
  • I am a pretty good marketer and improving.
  • I am very good on camera and connecting with my audience.
  • I am a good collaborator and teammate. 

Once again, I’ll stop there because you already know this about me 🙂 

There’s one more dynamic of my life I have to look at in order to see a complete picture of myself. As a Christian, I believe in a God who created me, loves and gave his son Jesus Christ for me.

This truth speaks to my overall value and worth. This is not to say that people who are not Christians are not of value or worth or that I am more valuable than others. What these spiritual truths speak to me are realities beyond my character and skills and speaks to my spirit.

Who am I when I fail or when I blow it? Do I have worth and value then? If you’ve ever blown it big time, its sometimes hard to find the encouragement you seek from others. Others can only see the mistake(s) where God sees beyond the mistake to redemption.

Here’s my brief list of spiritually encouraging truths

  • God loves me no matter what, so I can love others the same.
  • God shows me grace and forgiveness when I cannot forgive myself. This means I can sho grace and forgive others
  • God stays with me in my worst moments when other walks away. I will never be truly alone.
  • God values me, so I can value others.

I’ll close with a Psalm from David, where David declares the realities of his discouragement, but then turns his heart towards deeper truths that encourages his heart. I hope they encourage yours as well.

Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

 

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The Question Youth Workers Should Be Asking

I was reading a blog post by Bernadette Jiwa, she starts with this question,

If you had to pick one thing you need more of in order to succeed what would that be?

If you are a youth worker, and I hope you are, you may be tempted to say, “more students” , but is more students the right answer?

Would having more students make you a better communicator, a better programmer, a better youth pastor?

Having more students might get you off the hook with the board, the deacons, or your pastor but it will do nothing for you when it comes to actually pastoring those extra kids.

More kids is a result or more patience, more training, more prayer, more love, more outreach and more disciple making.

More kids won’t make us better, it will only reveal how unprepared we are for more kids.

I think it boils down to giving someone a fish to eat for a day or teaching them to fish for a lifetime. What if I could teach you to fish so you could reach the students you desire to fill your youth program?

I am starting a master mind group for youth workers soon, but to qualify for that I need to know your serious. Purchase my 30 minutes for $30 coaching package and you’ll be placed on a list of future applicants.

During this 30 minutes we’ll get to know each other and I’ll do my best to solve one of your current problems and help you get more of what you need to reach more students.

You can check out the 30 minutes for $30 here. I look forward to giving you more of what you need.

 

 

 

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Three Directional Thinking

This is one of thoughts you get while driving. I was thinking about my choices in the way think, and yes, we do have choices. When something hits my brain I can respond to it in one of three ways (note: I know these terms have varied meanings, I’m using the terms purely for illustration) :

Downward Thinking

Downward thinking is adopting the thinking of the base. Base thinking is the first things that come out of people’s mouths. Base people react versus respond; they are the first people to post on social if they don’t like something and add more emotion than is really needed.

Downward thinkers say things like, “I’m just speaking the truth” and “Well, someone has to say something and I don’t care who’s feelings get hurt.” Their not thinking about what is best overall, they are thinking about what is best of them, right now.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is thinking what everyone else is thinking. Lateral thinkers put their fingers in the air, see which way the wind s blowing and hoist their sales in that direction.

Lateral thinkers don’t think for themselves, they think to survive and if saying or doing what others say keeps them safe, then so be it.

Upward Thinking

Upward thinkers have flipped a switch. Upward thinking believes in positive living and is playing the long game to achieve such a life. An upward thinker sees life as precious and worth living and carefully weighs their thoughts  before acting.

The upward thinker believes success is around the corner, even if it’s a few years away.

Here’s an example: When we encounter people we don’t like

The downward thinker confronts and says we can never be friends and even chooses to cast them as an enemy.

The lateral thinker wonders what everyone else thinks about this person and chooses to make friends or not based on public opinion.

The upward thinker says, what are the possibilities? We may never be best friends but how can I elevate this relationship to where it can at least work and possibly grow.

This example shows micro-thinking vs macro thinking with no thinking in-between.

With every thought, every encounter, we have choices. I believe we can retrain our brains to be upward thinkers. This goes beyond positive thinking. Trying to think positively about a negative thing is mostly like shooing away a fly that only returns a few seconds later.

Upward thinking is for those who believe their life, as well as others, has purpose. Upward thinkers don’t see negative thoughts as interruptions but opportunities to think more deeply, be empathetic, and think through to the best possible outcome before acting.

None of this is easy. It’s something I practice every day. We do not have perfect control over the thoughts we think but we do have control over the direction our thoughts takes us. Let’s think upward toward a better, mentally healthier, life.

 

 

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Dear Church: Pay Attention To Detail And Watch The Wonder Happen

I saw an interesting post on Twitter, it said, “Have you ever seen a church within a church?”

Book reviewer Melissa Harrison saw something that blew her away,

“MATES MATES something brilliant just happened, well I found something brilliant, and I want to tell you about it. Sorry but THREAD INCOMING!”

What did she see? A model of the church, inside the church. Here is what what she saw

What blew her away even more, was the attention to detail.

Here is the picture Melissa took of the outside of the church

and here is the model

What is the one thing (among many) the church has forgotten? Attention to detail.

I don’t think we’re paying attention to the poor, the outcast, or the loser, yet, scripture tells us that’s who Jesus sought to uplift.

People, just like Melissa are intrigued by the church. They are wowed by the structure, the smell, the wood, the stone, and many other esthetics, but when they enter the church, do they really see a model of the church? I don’t mean the physical model Melissa saw, but the other model from Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Melissa was blown away to find a model of the church, fully detailed, down to the dog bowl outside inside the church, She found great joy in it, so much she tweeted about it! What if we paid attention to the details of Acts 2 and modeled them for a generation of kids who want to see the church inside the building?

How sad it must be for many believers to see a church, modern or classic, and are intrigued by it only to go inside and be disappointed that the church was not the model they hoped it would be. Granted, many people who do not believe do not know about Acts 2:42-47, but they know the church should look more like Jesus and less like us.

As pastors and believers, let’s pay attention to detail and make sure that what sinners find inside looks a lot like what they hoped it would look like from the outside; right down to the dog bowl.

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Three Words You Must Learn When Mentoring Teens

I’ve been mentoring students for a long time, but there are three practices which are foundational to each mentoring relationship I enter into. These are the three legs to my mentoring stool, Listening, Opportunity, and Failure

These three words make the mentoring relationship worthwhile for me. I want hear what kids are saying, I want to give them the opportunity to do what God has gifted them to do, and I want them to learn from and manage their failures well.

If you put these three words to work in every teen mentoring relationship, both you and the person you are mentoring will be fulfilled.

Listen

Every mentor has a desire to share what they know with others willing to listen, but mentors have to learn to listen as well. The rookie mentor or the arrogant mentor sees mentoring as a information dump versus a conversation.

Mentees might want to know all the details and crunch bits or maybe they want hear just the big picture and work the details out for themselves. We must learn the art of active listening in order to hear what what our mentees desire to  learn and break it down what we know for their context.

Here’s a video of how I am listening to students in my youth ministry so I can plan what they want heat and mix it with what they need to heart. This simple exercise gives students space to share their desires and gives me a chance to  listen to their hearts.

 

 

Opportunity

My temptation, as a mentor, was to do an information dump without giving the teen a chance to do the things they were learning from me. Sometimes, I felt like the old boxing trainer who would tell the hungry young fighter, “You’re not ready kid.”  I did this for selfish reasons, I wanted them to succeed out of the gate so I would look like a good mentor.

What I should have been doing was giving them as many opportunities as possible to skin their knee so they could build a tolerance to failure. The opportunity to build, create, preach, write, etc would have allowed them to shake off the fear of failure and instead embraced failure as part of the growth process.

Jesus didn’t spend all his time on mountain top teaching his disciples waiting for some magic moment to send them out, He sent the 72 disciples he had out to practice/do the ministry ( Luke 10). Jesus gave them some basic instructions and then said, “Go.”

Jesus gave his disciples the opportunity to do big, scary things. He didn’t start them off with walking little old ladies across the road, he gave them power and opportunity and it produced something amazing.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Faith (a working faith) without works is dead. If I want a kids faith to grow and increase I have to let them do the work. Christianity is not a class, it’s about putting faith into motion, being lead by the Spirit, and letting kids do what God has gifted them to do in spite of potential failures.

Failure

Let’s not make that big deal about failure. Failure is not only pat of learning, it is often the catalyst to learning. I don’t glorify failure, but I do respect it as part of the mentoring process even if teens do not.

I don’t want to see the teens I mentor fail because their failure is my failure. I take it personally if I feel I didn’t prepare them well for a task.

As mentors we must be patient with teenagers for a variety of reasons,

their schedules.

their hormones

their school work

their family needs

Teens may not make every meeting we set up or accomplish every task we give them. These are what we call teachable moments. It’s not that a teen cannot perform a task (although it’s possible) you’ve  given them; it could be because of external factors causing them to lost focus or to diminish the value of the task you have given them. This is where the real mentoring begins.

If we’ll be patient and let failure come at it’s own pace, we’ll discover more about the teen wee are mentoring and lear the real reasons behind missed meetings, stalled tasks, and lack of communication.

Our role is not to train a teen to be perfect but rather how to manage and learn from failure so that they are not crushed by them. Teaching resilience is more important than teach  the skill . Skills can come and go as needed but resilience is a much needed  life skill usable in all situations.

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Remember, if they’re failing, their trying. Give them  the needed space and grace to both succeed and fail.

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Getting Failure Out Of Your System

“but the difference is whether you decide to stop at a failure, or keep going until you get as many failures as possible out of your system until the only possible outcome is that you succeed.” – Benny Lewis

I know there are some who disagree with the concept of failing fast and failing often, especially when it comes to starting a business, but I’m not talking about business, I’m talking about life.

Me, and about a billion other people are not going to start a business, but we are going to try things. We’re going to try hard things and even, in our minds, impossible things, but I think we quit too soon before we even know if can be good at something.

I could have been a better guitar player if I had not quit too soon.

I could have been a black belt if I had not quit after two sessions.

I could have been ______________ (fill in the blank)

My contention isn’t that we should keep failing ad-naseum, we should fail just enough to get the failure(s) out of our system and see if we hit a tipping point where we can decide if whatever we are trying to get good at is something we want to fail some more at and eventually succeed (at some level) or did we just want to improve and move on.

Most people stop at a few failures and decide that they aren’t very good at it. I’m not good at golf, but I know if I put the hours in I can improve, but I’ve at least played enough golf, and scored in the 120’s enough, to know it’s not something I want to improve in. It’s a fine game but it’s not something I want to be a “success” at.

I believe in trying until you have exhausted your “want to” and shift into this is my passion and I will move forward until I fail less and less.

If you want to get good at something fail enough times to get as good as you want to be. If you want to be successful (make money, make it your job), fail as many times as it takes, make calculated risks (if money is involved) and pivot when necessary.

What do you think? Do buy into the fail fast and fail often?

If you’d like to hear me elaborate, you can check out my FB video

 

 

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