Author: Derek D. Dix

Derek is a youth advocate, writer, church partner, and speaker based in Sweet Home Oregon. Derek holds a Bachelor's degree in Ministry Leadership from Multnomah University (Portland, OR) as well as a Bachelor's degree in Bible/Theology from Multnomah University (Portland, OR). His training has equipped him to connect with youth, parents, and ministry organizations, in such a way that betters the society in which they find themselves. He currently is a speaker at camps, schools, and churches. He is passionate about relational discipleship, leadership, and helping others to become active Christ-followers.

Ever Feel Down?

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When talking with others, I am often baffled by the negativity that I often see. It doesn’t matter if its students in High School planing their lives after they graduate, or college students trying to figure out their careers, or even leaders in their particular field who feel like they have reached it. I am talking about when you feel invisible.

It’s that feeling that causes us to respond in many different ways. Some of us start to lose energy and focus. Others start to feel sad or depressed. While others of us just feel lost.

So what do we do with these feelings?

For fear of sounding weird, I have this belief that is deep down inside of me. This belief says more about us, then it does about anything else. You see, I believe that each and every person, regardless of where they were born, or where they live, or what job they have, has a Unique Design that makes them different than anyone else on the planet.

Whenever someone is in that spot where they feel invisible, I just want to get their attention and say “AWESOME! That means you are right where you are supposed to be.”

How can that be? How can a dry patch, a rough journey, a divorce, a job loss, a sick kid, a huge stack of bills be a good thing? See this is exactly what our Unique Design is all about. If you didn’t have those stack of bills, you wouldn’t be wrestling with it now. If you didn’t have a sick kid, where/how would you be focused or spending your time? A job loss? I have found that very few people are passionate about their jobs. In fact, many people would love to get rid of their jobs all together (sound nice?). But sometimes the frustrations, the opportunities, the resources that your job brings is exactly what makes you who you are.

We have to go through a situation in order to step into our unique design. 

We often focus on the situations themselves, when we feel invisible. But that doesn’t help us to step into our Unique Design. In fact, it often causes us to go in the complete opposite direction.

So what do we do now? Did you know that some very crucial, and important things happen to us each and every time we face that feeling of invisibility, loss or hopelessness?

6 Important Things That Happen To Us In That Moment

1. You Discover More About Yourself

When we are going through a job loss, or a financial crisis, or health issue, we get to develop our Unique Design. It is how we treat others in the midst of these situations, that make us who we are. It is your character that is getting redefined, reshaped, and re-purposed.

When everything around you feels like it is caving in, it is in that very moment, that your character is being tested, challenged, molded, and re-purposed.

2. You Are Being Trained For The Future

We have all heard it said that ‘history repeats itself.’ I am not saying that you will go through another situation just like the one you currently find yourself in. My hope is that you see that you are better equipped for that future situation, because of the one you find yourself in now. This has more to do with you stepping into your Unique Design then it does about not having another bad situation ever happen to you again.

3. You Stop Focusing on Questions, and Worry about Answers

It is in our human nature to want to go down the path of least resistance. Some people have completely ruined their lives (marriages, careers, families) because they chose the easy road. I find it interesting that this type of thinking requires us to come up with the correct answers: what job gets me the biggest paycheck, what treatment will keep my baby alive, what did I do to deserve this? All of these are questions that we run through in our heads (sometimes even verbally) when things start to go wrong.

If you are ever going to live in your Unique Design, you are going to have to stop asking questions.

You are going to have to start focusing on the answers. When I get this much money in the bank, I will no longer have to live in debt. When things happen rather than ask ‘why me?’ we start saying ‘ok, so I did (list out what you did), now lets learn from this. What do I need to do to stop this from happening again?’

See? You may be asking a question, but the purpose of your question is to have an answer for the ones that get you down.

4. It’s OK That I’m Dealing With This

We need to realize that dealing with things is a healthy way to live. We can never get ahead in our finances if we don’t know where our money is going. I like to deal with my things through reading. Nothing is better than getting another persons perspective on a situation. Who knows, they may say something that pushes you right into your Unique Design.

5. Thinking Is Good For You

I often joke about how thinking makes my head hurt. But the reality is, that thinking through things (like other perspectives, questions, etc) actually helps you to go into 4WD through the mess, and eventually get back onto the path of your Unique Design.

6. You Do Have A Unique Design

When you are right in the middle of the situation, it is easy to look for a wide, heavily used path. But that will never lead you into your Unique Design. Remember, your Unique Design is something that only you can have. You will never reach it by following the same path as someone else.

We often want the syllabus for living within our Unique Design. When in reality, we would still miss some assignments, turn things in late, and even mis-read or mis-interpret what it says. This is why having a critical mind, processing through things in crucial on this journey.

 

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Who Do We Want Others To Hear From?

One of the things I love to do, is talk with different people. I love hearing the things that excite them, the things they are involved in, and joining with them in their life journey. It puts a smile on my face when I see others excited about life. While I wish I could say this happens with every conversation, we all know I can’t.

Sharing Jesus

We all know that person who is going down a dusty, bumpy, unmarked road and feels like they took the wrong turn on the longest, most crazy road ever. How do we support these people? How do we encourage them? Is it even possible to give them what they need to gain hope?

Whenever I find myself in one of these types of conversations, or any conversation for that matter, John Piper in his book Don’t Waste Your Life shares part of a poem by C.T Studd that often comes to mind.

“ONLY ONE LIFE TWILL SOON PASS, ONLY WHAT’S DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST”

It’s easy for leaders to jump into ‘leadership mode,’ and figure out ways to get them out of their crisis, off that long crazy dirt road they are on; oftentimes without even thinking about it. Yet as a Christian, our focus should never be on simply helping them.

Whenever I speak someplace, or sit down to write, sure I want to find a clever, catchy way to communicate whatever it is I am trying to say. Yet at the root, it really doesn’t matter what I say. I don’t want them to hear me. I want them to hear from Jesus.

Weird?

I thought so too. But entertain me for a minute. As Jesus followers, we are called to point others to Jesus. Are we not? In fact, this is how the church even grew in the first place. (read about it in the book of Acts) They gathered together to worship, and then went out (their own ways) and told everyone they knew about Jesus, and how much He loves them. The Scriptures tell us that “The Lord added to their numbers daily, those who were being saved.”

The church didn’t grow because of their great speaking style, or their wonderful illustrations (their lives were the illustration). That isn’t how the Bible shares it. The growth had NOTHING to do with them.

So think about what you want others to hear the next time you find yourself in a dusty conversation, or in front of a group of people, or simply in the grocery store.

5 Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned Since I’ve Been Working In A Church

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For the longest time, I have been passionate about Leadership. I can remember wanting to go traveling around to different places speaking to people about leadership (pretty ambitious for an elementary age student huh?) As I entered middle school, my passion for leadership grew. I began watching leaders (principles, teachers, pastors, politicians, literally anyone I could visually see). In high school I began volunteering at my church, school, and any place I could get into. I learned very quickly that leadership is a part of every aspect of life. I knew God was calling me into student ministry, but I wasn’t exactly sure how that would help with my leadership desire. As I finished high school, and went into college, I decided to focus on leadership training. As a result, I am more passionate about helping leaders than ever before. I have learned several lessons about leadership that I didn’t fully recognize until I became a part of a leadership team at several churches.

1. Character is What Creates Skill

In all of my leadership studies, books I’ve read, blogs and podcasts I’ve listened to regarding leadership, most of them direct their attention to “Leadership Skills.” In fact, most leadership degrees spend 90% of their time building skills, so that they can eventually achieve the goals set forth by the company (or any company the may find themselves working for).

I can remember an internship I had at a church one summer. This was not a mega church, but it was a big enough church that required multiple staff and faculty members. I was focused on building my skills. One of the pastors of the church saw that I was focused on skill, and taught me a lesson I will never forget. The BEST Leadership Skills Only Come From Someone that Has Fully Developed Leadership Character! They followed that up by asking me if I had Leadership Character. What does this mean on a practical level? It really doesn’t matter what process you use for change, what technique you use to motivate others, what type of work environment you create (all things focused on to create ‘Skill’) if you are NOT focused on the people you lead it really doesn’t matter!!! When the focus is on the work we are doing, rather than the people, we are focusing on Skill over Character.

2. Leadership is a Gift

If I were to get all of my opinions from books and “leadership resources” I would view leadership as an achievement. I mean I can remember wanting to be an usher at church. Why? Because by doing so, I would be showing the world I was growing up, aka…….ACHIEVEMENT! This type of thinking causes us to try and prove ourself to others, and therefore create leadership opportunities for ourselves.

Since stepping into ministry, I have spent lots of time looking into the Scriptures to see what God says about leadership. I have come to realize that a leadership opportunity is NOT something we achieve! Rather, it is something that we are given by God. (Read that last sentence again!) Let me say this in a different way: It’s more about HIS (GOD’S) call on our lives, than it is about my desire to be a leader. One passage of Scripture that has changed my thinking on this is Romans 12:3-8. This passage clearly says that leadership is a gift. For me, this changes the way I view Leadership!

I came to realize that a great gift has a higher value than something I could earn on my own. To steward something I wouldn’t otherwise have brings with it a higher level of responsibility and pushes me to serve in humility instead of pride.

3. We Are What We Do!!

We have all been around people who define themselves by what they do. This is common talk among most leaders in our world today. I have changed my view on this since being in ministry.

In ministry, we are what we do. If ministry is a calling (which I am confident that it is), and therefore is NOT a career move, If leadership is truly a gift given to us by God Himself, and my life is defined by my walk with Jesus Christ, then the reality that we are unable to escape, is that I am What I Do!

The reason this perspective is so important for me, is because with this knowledge, it is impossible for me (or anyone for that matter) to compartmentalize my life. If I truly believe these truths, I must see everyday as an opportunity to know Jesus better, and to know the people I am given to lead in a way that not only moves me, but moves them, and US all to a closer walk with Christ. Doing this, in turn, allows us to be more effective in the way that we do ministry.

4. To Increase In Authority, I Must Lose Control

If you read, study, listen, or have first had experience of corporate leadership, you realize that the most “successful” leaders are the ones who control their circumstances to eliminate much, if not all failure. This is the very reason why so many bosses are afraid to ask for help or to delegate work to others. I mean why would I give you a task (that I can do) and then turn around and give the credit to you? I could do it, and I would get the credit for the work.

In ministry, it is crucial that every leader finds passages of Scripture that teach and show them how to be effective in ministry. The passage that does this for me is Exodus 18. Let me break this down for you. In this passage, Moses was trying to lead all by himself. His father-in-law came to him and told him that he was doing it all wrong (WOW! What nerve). He told Moses that if he really wanted to serve those that he led, he would have to lose control of all the decisions that impacted the people. Bottom Line: If he wanted to have more authority, more things would have to get done. He wouldn’t be able to get everything that needed to be done, done all on his own. He needed to get help in order to see it happen.

This principle is extremely apparent when leading in ministry. My goal in ministry is to impact the lives of others. I have realized that as a leader, I have to get more people involved in what I’m responsible for so that more people are impacted for the church and the Kingdom. (I have been told in the past that I am trying to ‘steal’ all of the volunteers away from other ministries before – my response is simple. I don’t care if they are in children’s, students, college, adults, worship, or any ministry area for that matter! I want to get as many people involved in ministry as possible, so that this world will be transformed by Jesus Christ in the lives of the people!) This principle found in Exodus 18 (and many other places in Scripture for that matter) has proven to be the key component to successful leadership for me.

5. Leadership is 360 degrees

Traditional leadership models are from the top down. It is unheard of for an organization to have the ‘team’ model, where everyone regardless of position, has leadership responsibility to everyone else on the team. While any organization would benefit from this ‘team’ model, I know that this model is VITAL to successful ministry.

One of the greatest things about being on a team, is accountability and support that you get from the other team members. I’m totally ok with my team giving me pressure, if it serves to help me. I must give a definition of ‘leadership pressure: ‘ having a conversation with someone because you see something now or something that is coming that no one else can see, even the person you are talking to. This could be in the area of integrity, strategy or work process.’

Working in a church, gives us one benefit that is incomparable, we work with believers! The Bible gives every believer the responsibility (WOW, THAT HAS BIG IMPLICATIONS) to help the people we do life with to be more like Jesus. And they have the same responsibility (There’s that word again) to me. So in church leadership, regardless of position, we all carry the responsibility (Again??) to help others on the team, regardless of position, to improve. As leaders, we have to be ok with a subordinate (I hate that term, but it gets the idea across) putting leadership pressure on me so that I get better at leading. We have to be open to one of our peers (yes, even though they don’t have a clue what you do) doing the same thing. We can’t simply rely on our boss (Senior Pastor) to help me become a better leader.

I have absolutely loved the fact that God has called me into ministry leadership. And to be honest, I have found it to be very challenging at times. But I have learned so much, and I hope that these five lessons will be as helpful for you as they have been for me.

My Life isn’t perfect, but I’m Thankful for everything I Have

Happy Turkey day!

As I sit here this morning, I can’t help but think of the things that I am thankful for this year. Last year around this time I wrote a post 13 Reasons I’m Thankful this Thanksgiving 2013. Keeping up with this tradition, here are 14 Reasons I’m Thankful this Thanksgiving day of 2014.

1) I’m so thankful for the great gift of Salvation given to me through Jesus Christ.

2) I’m thankful for God blessing me with my amazing wife!

3) I’m thankful for the joy that Jennifer brings me. – she always has a way of making my sad days happy, my happy days happier, and my boring day “most enjoyable”

4) I’m thankful for my family – They are always there for Jenn and I, and for that I am very thankful

5) I’m thankful that I live in a country where I don’t have to worry about if I can go to church on Sunday, where my wife can do what she loves (teaching), where we (Jenn and I) can get the opportunity to go to Bible College without a fear of getting killed for it. USA! USA! USA!!

6) I’m thankful for the opportunity to be on an amazing team at CFBC! – they are always finding ways to encourage my ministry, and to partner with each other in advancing the kingdom of God.

7) I’m thankful for my amazing support system! You all know who you are, and I will never be able to thank you enough.

8) I’m thankful for my extended families

9) I’m thankful for the teens at CFBC! – not a week goes by where these amazing children of God don’t challenge me or capture my heart. You guys ROCK!

10) I’m thankful for FOOD! – Pizza, Spaghetti, cookie dough, sushi, CHIPOTLE, Red Robin, Asian, pie, soups, breads, steak, fish, cereal, just about everything you can eat.

11) I’m thankful for Friends – friends are amazing! You have all impacted my life in many ways.

12) I’m thankful for Sports! – I have come to love watching sports. Of course I’m talking about Football and Basketball (primarily)

13) I’m thankful for laughter

14) I’m thankful for Coffee – I’ll let you figure out why.

A Resource You May Find Useful

Being a leader in a church is difficult. So whenever we can learn from what others are doing, it is in our best interest to do so.

I would like to draw your attention to a book that teaches you how to get your entire church (regardless of size) sending one single message each and every week, almost guaranteeing that your congregation will know what your were trying to say.

Found it to be a good resource. I did a book review on this book, check it out here.

The Big Idea

9 Questions to Ask Yourself as a Leader!

In my last post CFBC YOUTH LEADERSHIP TEAM CORE VALUES I talked about listening to God for direction. I know that some are going to ask me how in the world I filter through what is actually from God, and what is actually from my self-centered brain. So this post is dedicated to helping you understand the filters I have and use as I work in leadership.

  1. What does the Bible say?
  2. What do wise and godly people say?
  3. What does my experience say?
  4. What does the SPIRIT say?
  5. Does this negatively impact the vision of our ministry? Our Church?
  6. Am I excited about this?
  7. Is this a temporary solution?
  8. Is this extravagance or excellence?
  9. Will this benefit the ministries vision? The churches vision?

I find that I ask myself these questions often as I am planning a lesson, planning events, going into meetings, or anything I do that pertains to the ministries I am involved in.

I hope this helps you to understand my though process as I lead.

CFBC YOUTH LEADERSHIP TEAM CORE VALUES

Core Values

I am convinced that leadership takes work. Leading a team of people takes work. Which is why I will take every opportunity I can to read and listen to others on how they lead their teams. One aspect to leading a team, is that you know where you are going, and how you will get there. Which is why developing CORE VALUES is crucial for any team. As I have joined the staff team at CFBC, I have been constantly looking to develop core values for the youth ministry. After lots of prayer, research, thinking, and planning, it is crucial that we as leaders develop core values for our team. These are not core values for those we minister to or provide a service to, rather these are values for those who are on staff or in leadership.

So here are the core values for the Youth Group here at CFBC:

#1: Listen to Jesus, and do what He says!

#2: Commit to C.H.A.N.G.E.

  • C: Care about people! (After all, we do work with people)
  • H: Healthy (Emotional, Family, Financial, Physical, and Spiritual)
  • A: AWE! (We are never going to forget where we come from, and how far God has brought us)
  • N: Numbers (Not correlated with ‘Achievement’, rather ‘STATS’ that point to potential)
  • G: Grit (Doing “Whatever it Takes” to get people to know JESUS)
  • E: Everything Matters (Everything we do affects the church body, and everything the church body does affects our effectiveness. WE ARE JUST ONE PART OF A BIG TEAM)

#3: Always Believe that the Best is Yet to Come!