The Heat of the Situation

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Isn’t it amazing when we take a moment to think about what our life consists of? My heart is burdened deeply for the many fires I have been hearing about these past couple weeks. In Estacada, OR there have been some fires that have caused many businesses to close down, and has affected the lives of several people. In Bethel, AK a local church burned down to the ground. Why in the world am I even mentioning this? Why in the world would I (of all people) even be interested in something like this?

Because I don’t just see fire! These aren’t just homes and businesses getting burned down, or shut down while they take care of the fires. The church in Bethel that burned to the ground is more than just a building that is no longer standing. Both of these instances have a deeper connection to our lives than we think. For starters, I have family who is from Estacada. I even have family members who live just outside Estacada (which doesn’t take much since it’s a small town). One of my closest friends lives up in Bethel (rural AK off the bearing sea). No, none of my family is hurt or affected much by the fire/s in Estacada. And no, my good friend did not go to the church that burned down. But I am thinking about them. I am thinking about their families and friends.

Our world is so caught up in the “me, me, me” thinking, that we totally forget about others (unless it’s tragic). As I was thinking, I began to realize that we do that in the church as well. We are so focused on what we are doing, or what that next event is, or our next sermon series, that we totally forget about others. I would even venture to say that for many of us, we didn’t even think about these people’s spiritual destination. You see, I have burdened with this thought lately!

It really doesn’t matter if you are a good person or not. Nor does it really matter if you are rich or poor, or if you are young or old. Non of that really matters if you don’t understand this one thing. YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST is the MOST important aspect of you!

I used to care (like many) how someone looked. So much so that I never wanted to go work with homeless people. But then I met some, and I found that they were more open to talking about Jesus and what he did (or did not do), and how that affected them than many of my Christian friends at church ever would. Isn’t that amazing? So as we think and pray for those who are affected by these fires, let these stories be a reminder to us that we need to focus on the MOST important aspect of someone, and that is……Where will they spend eternity?

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What Can a Christian Leader Learn from an Atheist???

I would like to first say that this post is strictly written by Derek, from a leader in a church context. Which means that everything I will say, all my reflections, are all being gauged through this lens. 

Jim & Casper Go To Church: Frank Conversation about faith, churches, and well-meaning Christians by:Jim Henderson & Matt Casper. 

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This book is written from a very unique perspective. On one hand you have Jim, a Christian, while on the other you have Casper, an atheist. Their mission? to visit 12 churches across the USA. Some are known nationally, while others aren’t. This book started out as an experiment for Jim (note: Jim has been a long time pastor). He wanted to see how atheist perceive church. So he hired Casper to travel with him to visit 12 churches. This book is essentially the conversations they had as they visited, and discussed their experiences at these churches. 

This is an excellent book. The book is filled with observations (though only observations from one Christian and one Atheist). I have said it before, and I’ll continue to say it “Leaders Read, and Readers Lead”  This is an excellent book to read as a leader. Even if you don’t agree with the observations made, it is still helpful. I have to agree with what Casper (the atheist) said at the end of the book: 

“Jim asked me what I’d say to Christians everywhere, if I could, and I think it’s quite simple. There are two rules we must all abide by to live healthy, happly lives with each other and with everyone on the planet: 

                 1. Be open-minded. Learning is the best thing that can happen to anyone.

                 2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Did you catch that? Even he thinks learning is beneficial to ones life. Leaders, keep learning. Even if it means learning from an atheist. 

Seven Things I Believe about the Next Generation!!

Generation Next

As many of you know, I am the Youth Director at Chinese Faith Baptist Church in Lake Oswego, OR. One of my many passions is to see our young people grow up to not only be Christians, but to own their faith, and to live out their faith daily. As I was thinking, I came up with 7 things that I believe about the next generation. Here are seven things I believe about the next generation (people who are 20 and younger)……………………………………

#1 – The next generation will see one of the greatest awakenings the world has ever seen…I really do believe the Lord is setting them up for it. (Which is why I believe the greatest investment in “missions” that the church can make today is the one to have a dynamic youth and children’s ministry!)

#2 – The way the next generation will view and do church will be different than the way we do it today. They will fully know and comprehend how to reach out to themselves…and our role as a church should be to fund it and not fight it (that line is borrowed from Andy Stanley)!

#3 – The next generation seems to be way more serious about their walk with Jesus than my generation has ever been.

#4 – I believe those of us who are “more mature” (OLDER) should seek out those who are in their teens and listen to their questions and frustrations about life and church without coming down on them. If we will listen and patiently explain things there could be way less tension between generations in the church. Might does not make right. And…the “mature” people should always be the first to step into a relationship with the next generation!

#5 – I fully believe that the next generation has no earthly idea what God wants to do in them and through them…and if we will teach them to be fully surrendered on a daily basis, our children, grandchildren, and teens in our youth groups will see God do things we didn’t even think were possible.

#6 – I believe the next generation is not content with borrowing the faith of their parents, they are asking questions and seeking to understand WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it…and them doing that is going to equip them to take the church to the next level (I Peter 3:15).

#7 – I believe the next generation is going to refuse to settle for the way things are…and that as their view of WHO God is begins to increase so will their expectation in regards to what He can do.


		

FOCUS

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Last week, I shared with you the idea of a Personal Growth Plan. The most important aspect of leadership, is to help others. It’s not about our skills, abilities, or education. While those things are important, they do NOT create good leaders. This week, I have been trying to figure out what I could possibly provide you that would help mobilize your leadership. What can I possibly say that would help you to be a better leader?

While I may not be as well known as other leadership consultants, advisers, or speakers (which is totally OK with me), I do have experience that some of you can relate with. What I want to share with you this week does not just apply to those who are leaders at their job, or sports team, or even at the place where they volunteer. What I am going to share, can apply to parents, teachers, laborers, janitors, truck drivers, office workers, and even stay at home moms!

There is a lot of hype out there about developing you to be a better leader. While this is important, I strongly believe that we have blurred our vision, and our focus is off. What I am going to share, flows out of who you are. Not who you want to be. NOT who others think you are. NOT how you portray yourself. What I am talking about, goes down to your deepest core. Goes down to how you view life. It has everything to do with your value system/s. I believe that if we don’t have an understanding of these areas in our lives, we are just blindly leading.  It is CRUCIAL that each and every one of us who wants to develop as leaders, to wrestle with these 3 areas:

RELATIONSHIPS: How do you intentionally build a space filled with trust and respect with others?

FUTURE: We all have a vision of where we will be in the future. So what goals are worth spending time on to turn that vision into a reality? (I talked about Goal Setting here if you want some help with that) 

ETHICS: This was one of my least favorite classes in college. The reason was simply because being an ethical person is difficult. What does it mean to do the right thing, for the right reason?

If we can wrestle with these 3 areas, then we will find that leadership begins to flow out of us. I believe, that if we can’t get these three areas nailed down, it is going to be difficult to lead. It’s not leading if we have no relationships with others. If we don’t focus on our future and dreams, we get bored (and don’t really lead). If we have a hard time doing what is right, people won’t be interested in following you. If you are not consistent with what is right and wrong, then again, you’re a difficult person to follow.

I challenge you to wrestle with these three areas of your life.

What is Your Personal Growth Plan?

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I have spent much time listening to, and reading lots on leadership. Often times I learn new things, but I often neglect to put different aspects I’m learning together, or to apply them into my daily life. That seems to be a perpetual problem in 21st Century America. We have information at our disposal, simply with the click of a button. For example, I use my IMBd app all of the time to learn about new movies and actors/ress. Or my Twitter app that directs me directly to my Twitter account. There isn’t a day that goes by where we can’t gather information on any given topic of our choosing.

What do we do with this information? Honestly, it depends. If it’s valuable to me at this time or any time in the near future, then I store it in my mind. On the other hand, if I find it interesting, or informative, but not useful now, then I simply have no set of steps I take. That was until I did some reading and ran across this life changing-quote:

                “If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years,

 

                 that person will be an expert on that subject.” – Earl Nightingale

Why is this quote life-changing? It puts the possibility of being an expert into our hands.

So what exactly are we to do with this? Well, we must first start by coming up with 1 or 2 areas we would like to become ‘an expert on.’ This is done through goal setting. I wrote about Taking your Dreams and Turning them into Reality. Once we do so, we must begin gathering books, online articles, blogs, vlogs (video blogs), videos, and even people in which we can learn from. Then comes the next step, schedule time daily to become an expert.

How you do this daily, could be difficult to determine. So, I’ve provided a sample weekly routine that could help you move on. This sample is based on the fact that you would spend 1 hour a day to develop your expertise.

  • Monday: Spend 1 hour developing you spiritually! (Read a devotional, study a book of the Bible, etc.).
  • Tuesday: Spend 1 hour reading a book on your desired topic (I read books on leadership).
  • Wednesday: Spend 30minutes filing quotes, and 30minutes reading the book on your desired topic.
  • Thursday: Spend 1 hour listening to a recording on your desired topic (I listen to leadership podcasts).
  • Friday: Spend 1 hour filing quotes and reflecting on the contents of Thursday’s material.

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I have been told that most Americans spend about 30 hours a week watching the tv. None of which really helps us out in the future. Why not take 1 hour a day to develop your knowledge and expertise?

Goal-setting Turns Your Dreams to Reality

Do you have a desire to accomplish certain things this year? Does it seem as though you will never get those things done? You’re not alone. I can’t tell you how many things I have set out to accomplish, but have yet to do them. I always thought I was doing something wrong, and the truth is, I WAS!

I will never forget what I saw when a pastor was speaking to his congregation one week:

“Raise your hand if you have a goal or goals that you want to accomplish this year!”

“Goals will never be reached if you can’t write them down! Raise your hand if you write down your goals!”

The reason these were so memorable for me has absolutely NOTHING to do with the question or statement themselves. Rather, it has EVERYTHING to do with the way the people responded.

When he asked the first question (yes, he was asking questions), it was like a kid in a candy store, who was trying to reach for that candy on the top shelf.

When the second question was asked. It was like being in a room full of people who were trying to keep a secret from you (but weren’t doing a very good job at it).

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Through extensive research, I have come up with 4 things that will help when trying to complete a task, meet a goal, or get something done:

  1. Don’t make the list too BIG: Research shows that the average person can only focus on 5-7 things at a time. We MUST keep our goals ‘front and center’ so that we can continue working towards them. If we are focused on too many things, our minds will just shut down.
  2. S.M.A.R.T: This is an acronym I found helpful.
  • Specific– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure you know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. This requires you to state ‘exactly’ what it is you want to take off that shelf of goals you have.
  • Measureable– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure it is something you can actually do. It does absolutely no good to work towards something that you have no possible way to manage.
  • Attainable– When making decision,goal, or want to complete something, be sure they require an action from you. Remember, actions get things done! Making a goal of (being me) just doesn’t require you to do anything. Set goals, with the mindset that there are mini-activities that you must do before it is attained.
  • Realistic– Making a goal of being a millionaire while being a college student, is just plain unrealistic for most people. Setting a goal like this is unrealistic. This type of goal is not helpful. Setting a goal like this is simply, setting yourself up to fail. Be REALISTIC!
  • Time-Bound– When making a decision,goal, or want to complete something, have the end in mind! Know when you want to accomplish that task (this will help you figure out the order of your ‘activities’ to do in order to reach the goal). Is it a long term goal (like by end of the year) or is it something you want to accomplish by a certain date (like your anniversary)? It is crucial that you put a date next to EACH of your goals, otherwise it’s just a dream.

3. Write them on paper: This is the most important part. You MUST write out your goals, or tasks out on paper, otherwise they are just dreams that you have. Studies have shown that writing out your goals or plans is one of the best ways to take it from a dream, to a reality.

4. Review:  Regularly review your list of decisions, goals, or wants that you’d like to complete. This could be every week, or every other week (really depends on you). This allows you to see what the next steps are, fine tune your goals (because life has a tendency to make things change), and gives you the opportunity to see what you have accomplished (which tells you how much closer you are to taking that goal off that rusty old shelf of dreams).

Research has shown that people who make goals, and meet their goals, tend to live a happier life.

If you are like that group who would keep your hands down when asked if you have written out your goals, make an appointment with yourself, and write out your goals. This 2-3 hour meeting will be the beginning of a long and happy life.

If you found this post to be helpful, please do these two things:

–          Click on the “Leave a Comment’ link at the bottom of the post, and let me know how this post helped you. (You can also ask any questions you may have for me as well).

Share this post on ALL of your social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

2 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Inbox

Time is the most valuable thing we have (outside of air). One thing that seems to consume a lot of our time is our mail. Many of my college classmates, peers, and just about anyone born in the computer age, have very little experience with actual paper mail. Almost 80% of our mail is paperless. Meaning we get our mail via avenues such as e-mail, and social networking sites like Facebook messages and Twitter. Although most of our mail is paperless, we are unable to get away from paper mail altogether. So how exactly do we manage our inbox?

If you are anything like me, you find yourself getting multiple messages, or e-mails daily. It isn’t uncommon for me to receive 100 e-mails a day. This isn’t even counting the old e-mail addresses I have, that I never use anymore (that probably get just as many e-mails).

Part of this has to do with the way I use my social networking accounts. I previously wrote about 4 Ways to Make the BEST Use of Your Twitter Account.

With this much activity in a day, it is easy to feel like you will never catch up, never be in control, and never be able to see a time when your digital mail stops consuming so much or your time.

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Today I wish I could tell you that taking over your digital mail does not consume much time. The reality is, that until I developed a plan to deal with my digital mail (that worked for me), I was never able to take control of this area of my life.

I’d like to share with you what I have found to help me deal with my digital mail.

USE THE E-MAIL FILTERS: What in the world are e-mail filters? For those who are less technical (like myself), filters basically set up folders. These folders are set up by you. Examples of folders you may find useful are: e-mails you are cc (carbon copied) in. OR SPAM, OR newsletters/receipts

It has taken me a while to understand how these exactly work. The reality is, I didn’t know they even existed until I read about them on a trouble-shooting blog (about a completely different e-mail issue altogether). These filters will end up saving you LOTS of time. Basically, these filters tell your incoming mail where to go (which allows you to focus on actual e-mail as opposed to Spam, or Junk-mail).

KEEP UP DAILY: The key to not letting your inbox consume your time is to keep up with it. I have a goal that I have set up for myself (I don’t always get there, but it’s still a goal).

 Here is what it is: “empty my inbox daily.” This seems like a very difficult task at first. To be honest, it is! That is until you make a plan to stay on top of it. By emptying my inbox daily, I never have to worry about not getting things done.

This is much easier once you have set up your e-mail filters, and use them!

KEEP MOVING: One way I have found to empty my inbox daily, is to keep moving. How common is it for us to see a new message, open it, read it, and then do nothing (isn’t this our typical response)? In order for me to reach my goal (empty my inbox) I must ask myself a question: “Is this message asking me to do something?” How I answer this question tells me what to do with the message.

If the answer is YES – I find there are only 2 options for me to make

DO IT NOW: In his book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” David Allen introduces what he calls the 2 minute rule. This rule basically states that ‘if a task can take you less than 2 minutes to do, you must do that task without putting it off.’ I find this to be very helpful when I receive an e-mail that requires me to take action. If I can respond to the e-mail, attach a file; write a note, etc. in 2 minutes or less, I do it. I don’t put it off. (I like to do this before I move on to the next e-mail).

ADD IT TO THE “TO DO” LIST: There is always going to be those e-mails that require you to do something that will take you more than 2 minutes to complete. SO, put it on your “to do” list. This includes the tasks that will take a longer period of time.

I found if this is the case, it works best if I make an appointment with myself. Making an appointment with yourself is a task that seems weird at first. What I mean, is that you set a specific date and time when you will come to it later and get it done.

NO – If the e-mail is NOT asking you to take action, I see only 2 options

DELETE IT: You must decide if the e-mail has information you need to save (A list of e-mail contacts, meeting notes, etc.). If not, then DELETE it! I have never had a problem retrieving an e-mail I deleted that I truly needed (the reality is, that if it’s something I truly need, I can always ask the person to resend the e-mail).

FILE IT: I have a file called Processed Mail. This file ONLY has mail that I have read, taken action on, or has information I will need at a later date. (NOTE: I don’t use this file to hold e-mails that have cute jokes, pictures, etc. Rather, I ONLY use my Processed Mail file as a holding place, or as a ‘go to’ place for information that I will need in the future).

Following these steps will seem like a waste of time at first. However, after you do this for a short period of time, you will find that it truly does limit the time you will need to spend on e-mails.

What do you do with your e-mails?

Do you have any other ideas on how to do this?