We all have endings in our lives. We end relationships, jobs, and even our own lives each have an ending. Most people wait until the end to do the things they really want to do, to live how they want to live and reflect their ideals in their priorities and decisions. On todays podcast I talk about what it means to take each moment and choose to actually live instead of just existing. I give you three ways to reorder your life so that when it is time to end something, you can do so with no regrets. Click Here to Listen on Sound Cloud Click Here to Listen on iTunes
It seems to happen every year. The last frost has melted from the ground. The first blooms are poking their heads through the surface of the warming ground and the air fills with the songs of birds. Then they come.... the squirrels. Most of the time they are easy, normal parts of the everydayness of my back yard but for some reason, in the early spring, the just get a little... well.... too Squirrelly. They start digging in flower pots, messing up gardens, jumping on bird feeders and seemingly, for no reason, frantically searching around for something to dig around it. We see them in the church as well. Not the cute furry kind but the ones who walk with two legs, upright and seem to want to dig up areas that seem to be doing just fine. You know what I am talking about, right? …
It is the week after the 4th of July. First I hope that you took the opportunity to get some much needed rest and a take a well deserved "half way through the Summer" respite with friends and family. Now it is time to get back to the grind and finish the Summer strong. Here are three things that need to be on your check list for this week that will help you finish the Summer strong and start the Fall right!
Volunteer Check-In and TrainingAs we end the Summer and begin the Fall it is important to make sure that we check in on our volunteers. If our volunteers have been serving straight through the Summer and into the Fall you might want to think about giving them a break before their school year service term begins. Let the youth staff or another set of volunteers take over for a few weeks at the end of the Summer so that your regulars can start the year renewed and refreshed. …
I am in a season of imbalance. I am tired. I have too many things on my plate right now and am working diligently on each of them, many plates spinning. I am in a season if imbalance. I have too many wonderful and great things going on in my personal and professional life. To be honest I, like many in ministry, like to stay pretty busy. I love creating new things, exploring new ventures and working to accomplish things bigger than myself. This weekend I received a phone call from a friend who told me without reservation, "Stephen, you are too busy right now." …
I know that is a strange title, and some people might be offended when the book I am talking about is not the bible. Well it is not, partly because I am talking about a book that I read for the first time in the past 7 years. Other people might be offended as well when they hear who the book is by. A lot of people know me and know my love for provocative theology and authors who push the envelope, this book is neither. …
Several times a year our student ministry puts on large 200+ person retreats and as the director of the student ministry I am in charge of making sure these retreats are safe, fun and help our students grow in their faith with God. At one point in my career that induced a huge amount of stress and excitement. Over the years I have developed a few practices leading up to a retreat that takes away the stress and just leaves the excitement!
Practice 1: Lists
I cannot tell you how much I depend on lists, not just lists of what I have to do but lists of what I have done. We all know the importance of keeping good lists of what is coming. I want to offer a couple of ideas for how you use lists.
The first is to keep your lists long after you are finished with your retreat! I will always keep my lists when they have all of their items checked off. I do this because I know that I will do this retreat again next year, and the next year and so on. Since I am not a big fan of re inventing the wheel I know that there will be many, usually for me 85%+, tasks that I will need to repeat again next year. It includes simple things like remembering to bring a bull horn to large things like getting all of our small group boxes completed. I need to take a break here and note that I do not consider these lists as a replacement for my Preventative Maintnance Calendar. PMC's are an invention of my good friend Mark DeVries. These are calendars that systematically lead us up to the event usually from around 8 months before. These are invaluable to my ministry and I highly reccomend using these. If you are more interested in this concept I would love to put on my Youth Ministry Architects hat and talk with you more! Back to the subject at hand, the lists have a great ability to keep us from having to remember the small details from year to year. It can also act as an evaluation tool to look at how we managed our time from last year's retreat.
Practice 2: Have the Retreat Two Days Early
Ok, not really, but if you pretend that the retreat will happen on a Wednesday instead of a Friday you will not find yourself nearly as stressed or run down when Friday actually rolls around! It is a silly trick but it really works! I usually work towards Wednesday and pretend like that is the day when everything is due. When I do this I find myself doing a lot of the more time consuming and important things earlier and am much more ready for the weekend than I would be otherwise. I believe the reason why this works is because, as you know, we always will have those things pop up at the last minute. There will always be the chaperone who cannot attend, the video that will not work or the band who is late. When these things happen they are not nearly as stressful because we actually have the time to deal with them and not have to neglect what we already had scheduled.
Practice 3: Outsource, Outsource, Outsource!!!!
Often times youth ministers, myself included, have a bit of a martyr complex. We love to go into a retreat weekend and absolutely spend ourselves. I remember an old football coach used to tell us to leave everything on the field or else we would regret it. Many of us practice youth ministry and especially retreats with this mentality. I have come to believe that we are so much more useful and successful when we make sure that we have few scheduled jobs during a retreat. Now do not get me wrong, you will work and work hard but you will be able to spend your time doing the things that require your immediate attention and that can often only be accomplished by you. For this reason, you should not try to lead a small group, facilitate games or be the lead in the skit during the retreat. The other positive of this way of thinking is that you, sometimes, will have those breif moments to sit back and watch the beauty of the weekend that you worked so dilligently on play out in front of you. This is a gift you should give yourself from time to time, it is well deserved.