Monday, November 30, 2015

Organizational Goal Setting

Here are some good questions I came across regarding personal goal setting that I adapted for an organizational perspective.

  • What would you do differently or how would your organization change if it suddenly had $5,000,000*?  What would you start?  What would you stop? What would you do more of?  What would you do less of?   (*Adjust for your organization by multiplying your yearly expenses by 10.)  
  • Fifty years from now, if you could write your organization's history, what would you want it to say about the next three years?  Five years?  Ten years?
  • What would your organization attempt if you were guaranteed success? 
  • What does your organization do really well? What leads to the most "this is awesome" moments?
  • Where can your organization be more generous?
  • What risks is your organization stalling at taking?
  • What is the one thing that is slowing your organization down?  Pretend it doesn't exist.  Now what?  (Does it really exist?)
  • What should your organization be doing (or doing more of) that it isn't today?


Original questions here:
http://www.modgility.com/goal-setting-template/
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/your-progress-report.html

Friday, October 30, 2015

3 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe

“DO NOT take candy from strangers”  
 
With Halloween just around the corner, it made me think of the ultimate advice that parents give to their children.

     The irony with this advice is that on Halloween night we actually encourage children to ask for candy from complete strangers. And actually, there's a bigger problem with the candy-from-strangers cliche: While strangers can be dangerous, our children face more danger from people they actually know. According to the Department of Justice, strangers account for only 10% of all abuse cases, while acquaintances account for 90%.

     That's not the typical scare we expect so close to Halloween, but if this is the reality of the world we live in, then it’s worth thinking about.

Here are three specific things you can do to help keep your kids safe.
  1. Teach your kids the basics of personal boundaries. At Camp, we teach our campers to “Respect everyone with your hands and feet.” It’s important for children to know what's appropriate both physically and conversationally. Let your kids know that anyone who crosses those boundaries is doing something wrong. Teach them to tell you about it right away. 
  2. Encourage your kids to stay in groups of three. "Groups of 3" is a rule that we heavily emphasize at Camp both with our campers and with our staff. We never allow anyone to be alone with another person. It may seem extreme, especially if it's someone you trust, but this safeguard can go a long way in protecting your child. Encourage them to follow the Groups of 3 rule at church events, in child care settings, and even on play dates at a best friend's house. There's power and accountability in numbers.
  3. Lastly, ask organizations about their hiring (or volunteer recruiting) processes. Any organization that cares for kids should have specific pieces in their hiring and training processes to protect kids from potential abuse. If the place you’re sending your child can’t tell you anything about their screening or protection processes, you might want to think twice before using it. At COCUSA, we utilize background checks, personal and professional references, and interviews to screen our potential staff. After they are hired, we also train them in key procedures that relate to child safety.
As parents, we have the responsibility to protect our kids as much as possible.  So go ahead and give the standard “no candy from strangers” advice to your kids this Halloween. After all, you never know when there might be a candy-sharing boogie-man around the next block. But let’s work on keeping them safe throughout the year too. The awkward conversations or strange looks from other parents are definitely worth it to keep your child safe.


I wrote this, my friend and co-worker Kyle Hill improved it, and we blogged it on the new COCUSA Blog.  You can find it and more cool posts regarding parenting at www.cocusa.org/blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Experts

Last week COCUSA put new floors in our Peoria office.  We had gotten a great deal on some engineered hardwood and did the work ourselves to save even more.  Luckily we had a friend in the office next door who had installed hardwood floors for his job as recently as a year ago.  Thank you Rick Byrne!

As we got started we had him give our office a walk through.  We listened to his advice and then he turned to go.  As he was halfway out of our office he stopped and said "Let's take a look at that back closet door, I'm not sure it's going to close."

He was right, the old door didn't fit the height of the new floor.  (We're working on that part).

More amazing was that Rick noticed that issue in his casual glancing around the office.  And the fact that he left, but then returned, makes it most likely that he noticed it almost subconsciously.

He was such an expert in hardwood floors he could sense when something was off, even if he didn't spot it or call it out right away.

What are you an expert in?  I think we all have things (or can have things) that we become so good at we just notice nuances and issues without even trying too.  The best way to get there?  The old adage "practice makes perfect" probably relates here as well.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Going to Church

"Weddings, funerals, bazaars, and bingo!"

So says the game Apples to Apples.  Easter didn't even get mentioned!

Just a sobering reminder of where our culture is at.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A few lessons from the summer

As I'm reviewing my first summer as Executive Director of Camp of Champions USA, here are some things I learned (at least I hope I did):

When you're leading, you have to know that things are going to go wrong.  You can't take those things too personally or it will cripple you.  On the other hand, if you have a cavalier "welp that was going to happen" attitude you won't actual care for people.  The best way I can explain the balance is: Take things seriously without taking them personally. 

Communicate.  If you're leading anything you probably need to communicate more and better.  Years ago I heard an Executive Director of another camp say "It may be possible to over communicate, but I have yet to see it."  I agreed with that statement before, but I think I'm in the process of believing it now.

As you grow up in a ministry your roles and duties change with each position.  At COCUSA, I've gone from being super-hands on as a summer staff member, to balancing being with kids and overseeing three sites as a Regional Director, to now figuring out the role of an Executive Director.  At times this summer it felt like my only job was to keep the proverbial train on the track: Just keep kids safe and keep our focus on the Gospel.  I hardly got to "do ministry".  But I think I learned this: Keeping the train on the track is ministry.  If the train falls off the track (through a hurt child, a lack of Gospel-focus) then there is no ministry.  Therefore, more than the "up-front friendly guy that every parent knows" I actually settled more into "quality control guy" role.

My job gives me great opportunity to be able to pause for this type of reflection.  Even if yours doesn't, you need to make time to do it.  An unreflected and unreviewed life lacks focus and direction.  When will you take some time to pause and reflect on your life and ministry?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Repost: A warning from the life of Asa

Here's the story:

Asa became King of Judah and had a rocking relationship with God.  He was very effective and changed Judah for the better, turning the country back towards the Lord and away from idols.  At one point, ten years into his reign, King Asa and his army are up against one million soldiers.  He prays to the Lord, acknowledging that without God, he has no chance of winning the battle.  God comes through, and Judah wins the battle.

Twenty-six years later, King Asa is faced with a similar situation.  It's not one million soldiers, but a foreign king is threatening the kingdom.  Instead of praying to God, he takes treasures (some of them from the temple) and buys his way out of his tough position.  While his buy-out is successful, God sends a prophet and clearly tells King Asa that he was in the wrong, since he didn't rely on God as he once did.

(Full version of the story here)

I'm sure there is more than one take-away for this story, but here's mine and it comes in the form of a warning:

The longer you are doing something, the harder it is to continue relying on God while you do it.


July 2015 update:
Maybe the reason God continues to put hardships in your life/venture/ministry/job is so that you continue relying on him.  Just a thought.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's next?

Let's say you're going on a hike.  It's a "there and back" trip, not a loop back to your starting point.  You also only have a set amount of time to finish.

When you come to the end of your time limit, when you need to turn around so you can return to your starting point on time, there's a small hill that you can't see over.

Do you: a) Turn around because your time is up. or b) See what's over the next hill.

I don't know if there's a right answer, but I do know what mine is.

B!  You've got to see what's next!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Parenting lines that don't work

"Alright, we're just going to leave you here."

Variations: "We're leaving now." "We're heading to the car."

Why you think it will work:  Given the choice between sticking with the nice, safe parent or being left alone on a mean, cruel playground (or similar), the child will choose sticking with the parent.

Why it doesn't work:  The only reason you're using this line is because your kid is already intent upon staying.  She/he doesn't see the playground as mean and cruel, but fun.

Better to just to grab his or her hand and go.  There may be a fit the first few times if you haven't done it before, but you'll be better off in the long run.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The best trainer I know...

That would be my wife.

When my older two kids were learning to ride their bikes, I gave up after one session.  She, in the same amount of time, had them up and running...err cycling.

She's trained our kids to cook.  Literally.  And we still joke about the time that I attempted to have Jackson crack an egg.

She's even better at training our dog.  She's consistent and patient, which I am not.

I think it's because Brittany just goes for it, without the need for either the trainer or trainee to be perfect or polished.  I, however, put all sorts of expectations on the trainee.  ("How can they not get this by now?!")

This post coincides with Mother's Day, because my wife is one great mom.

But the bigger lesson is for those of us who want to train others:
How much do you actually jump in with your trainee and let them do it?
Or do you just tell them a bunch of information and expect them to get it?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mull it over

If you're tackling a project or question that doesn't have an easy answer, sometimes the best thing you can do is... wait.

You could spend hours pouring all of your mental energy out.

Or you could just come back to it tomorrow.  Nine times out of ten I find that the answer was easier and more obvious than I thought.  Or I'll have a random insight pop into my head at another time of the day.

This is not an authorization of procrastination.  If you have work to do, do it.  But if you don't have an answer and you have time... mull it over.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Music

There are 7,957 verses in the New Testament.  As best as I can tell about 20 have something to do with singing, songs or music.

That's only .2 %  (That's a decimal before the number two.)

Compare .2% with the percent of time that the average church spends worrying about music for Sunday morning.

Or how many people have left a church because of music?

I'm not even saying we should relegate music to a .2% role.  There is also plenty of Old Testament scripture about singing.  But in many ways the New Testament is a handbook for the church.  I guess I'm just saying we shouldn't elevate music to the 50+% role that it seems to currently occupy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Keeping sane during busy seasons

Here's a few tips on how to stay sane when things get busy:

1) Control your email.  You're in charge of your inbox, not the other way round.  The busier I am, the more I limit my access to email.  I know it feels like you're doing more when you respond to everything as soon as it comes in, but the reality is you're interrupting more important work.

2) Realize when a "B" job is going to be just as sufficient as an "A+".  I'm sure most teachers cringe at this idea, but the reality is that I could give a "C-" effort in lawn care this summer, and everything is going to be okay.  There are plenty of places to put your best effort, and you should do so in those places.  But you don't need to put your best effort everywhere, and saving yourself for what counts is important.

3) Similar to #2, recognize when things can be deferred until after the busy season.  You need to become an expert in realizing what needs to get done NOW and what, while still important, can wait until next month.

4) Keep a sabbath and guard family time.  This will probably mean hiding your phone and computer when you're at home.  When you're at work, work hard.  You may even need to put in extra time during a busy run.  But when you're away from work, leave it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What are you getting paid today?

Did you earn it?

It's easy when you're young and getting paid pennies (hopefully not literally but maybe so).  You know that if you put an hour of work in you'll get a set amount.  Or if you mow this sized lawn you'll get paid a specific amount back.

But many of us, specifically in ministry, can lose sight of what we're getting paid today.  We have a salary.  We probably have some benefits.  But we just see that separate from our work as a bi weekly or monthly paycheck.

For a short amount of time it might be separate.  But not if you don't take your work seriously.

So do this: Use your yearly income, plus benefits to figure out your daily pay.
[(Salary + benefits)/52/5 is one way to get you there.]

Whatever that amount is... Will you earn it today?  Could you look your boss/board/congregation in the eye and tell them, "Yes, today I fully earned what you paid me."

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Small church, big impact

Despite it's relatively small size, I am amazed how generously my home church supports the work I do at Camp of Champions USA.

With an average Sunday morning attendance of less than 100, the church (as an organization and as the people in it), provides nearly $500 a month in support of my ministry.

I'm tempted to call up a friend in ministry who is a member at a large (500+ people) church and ask what their monthly support is from that group.

But instead of doing that I'll just praise my own church.  Way to go guys! (It's even crazier when you consider I'm one of about 20 or so supported missionaries.)


Monday, April 13, 2015

Seasons change

The time has come to change my posting schedule.  I'm not particularly enthusiastic about doing this, but seasons change.

For the last while I've pretty well stuck to a Monday/Thursday posting schedule.  It's been great for me.  (I'd still recommend it for you.)  Committing to writing a certain amount each week is a great way to help you develop ideas and improve your communication skills.

But that season is over for now.  For the foreseeable future, I'm going to move this blog to an "as I'm inspired" posting schedule.  It could mean I post more... (I was going to do this 2 weeks ago and then had a small spurt of blog ideas)... I expect it will mean less.

Regardless, thanks for reading so far and I look forward to our continued dialogue in the future.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When to call it quits

I think everyone organization should start preparing to quit.  Now.  Here's how:

Write a detailed explanation of your main program* or any program and how it's working.
Date this explanation.
At the bottom of the page write, "Is this still working?  If not, quit it or remake it immediately."
Make at least five copies of this letter and stuff them into five envelopes.
Write "Open in 2025, Open in 2035, Open in 2045, etc" on the outside of the five envelopes.
Put these envelopes in a conspicuous place so whoever is at your organization in ten years, twenty years, etc. can follow the advice inside.

Would we see so many ineffective programs and ministries if we followed this plan to quit?


*For churches, you might just write about any program, since the main "program" of the church is followers of Jesus seeking to make disciples... you probably should not quit that.

Monday, April 6, 2015

You Should Vote

So tomorrow is an election day in my municipality.  It may or may not be in yours.  But if it is, you should vote.

It's sad the amount of people who do not vote even in the "big elections" that include the presidency or congress.

It's sad to the point of being unbelievable how few people vote in local elections.   Sure city councils, small-town mayors, and school boards aren't very exciting races.  But in a very real way you have more chance to impact the outcome than in any other election.

You could change the world around you by voting, and that might just start changing things elsewhere too.

So go do it!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ways we should be more like Espen

Espen, my third son, turns five today.  Here's a few things we could all learn from him:

Hold a few things close.  Espen's always trucking around with a snuggle animal and a bedtime blanket.  Usually there is a favorite toy of the week included in his arms too.  He doesn't hold everything close, because that is impossible, but a few things are worth holding on to.

Know when to relax.  If we don't have plans to leave the house, Espen is in his pajamas.  And if we come back from somewhere, so long as it's not nice enough to play outside, he's asking if he can change back into his pajamas no matter the time of day.  Sometimes you need to just kick up your feet and relax.

Always greet people joyfully.  I've seen him pick a visiting relative out of a crowd, yell that person's name, and run across the room to give them a hug.  In general, most of us seem ashamed to be excited to see someone.  If we're excited there's nothing wrong with showing it.

Thanks Espen.  Happy Birthday!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fellowship

Too often we throw around the term "fellowship" any time that there is a group of believers together.

We do the math this way:
One follower of Jesus + One follower of Jesus = fellowship.

I don't really think that's the case, especially considering these verses:

Romans 15:26 - For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8: 4 - They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
Hebrews 13:16 - And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

In these passages offering, sharing and share are the Greek word that is most often translated fellowship.  Most often, but not always.  Apparently there's an element of fellowship that should include giving.  When's the last time you were giving (yourself, your mental effort, your wealth) in a time you considered fellowship?

Huh... and I thought we just needed to talk about sports and the weather with another Christian to count it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Non-Profit History Lesson

Once upon a time someone (or a small group of someones) had an inspirational idea to make a difference.  They started small at first, but when they realized the need for donations to make their idea happen, they start a non-profit.

Every non-profit needs a board, but that's not a problem because they already have a team of committed individuals wanting to see the idea flourish.

What's interesting is that at some point in the life-cycle of non profit organizations, the board realizes they can better accomplish their mission by hiring a staff member to do the majority of the work while they provide oversight.

But then eventually the original board members (because of time, finances, family, etc) need to step down off the board. The vacancies are filled with committed individuals, but they weren't there for the original hiring of the staff member.  So in a short time span, if the board is eventually all replaced, the staff member knows more about the organization than any board member.

(This is not all non-profits as I'm sure you can have lifetime tenured board members or organizations that never hire staff.  But I think it's the majority... nothing wrong with it, just good to know.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Commitment

I had a picture the other day of commitment.

A friend/volunteer I know who is much busier than I am showed up at an event Camp was holding.  Earlier in the year it had been communicated that he (along with a group he belonged to) should help with this event.  For this guy specifically I hadn't done any follow up because I didn't want to burden him with another thing on his schedule.

I was surprised when he was there.  I apologized for not having anything for him to do and for not communicating to him that he didn't need to come.  To which he replied.

"I just thought everyone was supposed to help."

Is that your attitude of commitment? If you're involved and you knew it was an expectation, are you there?  No questions asked?

Or are you waiting to be re-asked again?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Names

Some of you know that I have a strong dislike for naming things unnecessarily.  I think if you take a look at most church and christian organization websites you'll find something with a name that is quizzical at best and lame or misleading at worst.  I often think: "Why name it? Just do it."

But I might be starting to come around.  I think I'm realizing the importance of giving something a name.  It can help to define your culture.  It can give clarity and purpose to something that would be otherwise ambiguous.  It can do those things, but only if you find a good name.

So if you're starting something new and you feel it needs a name go ahead and name it. Just please name it well enough that we all know what you're talking about.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What's in a tithe?

Deuteronomy 14:22-23
"You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the lord your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the lord your God."

Emphasis (obviously) mine.

But really... tithing will teach you to always to fear the Lord your God?

What's in a tithe?  A lot apparently.

How's your giving?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Your best fundraiser...

It already happened.

Allow me to share a little story.  I work at Camp of Champions USA.  Throughout the course of a year we strive to raise over $250,000 for the ministry.  One of our biggest fundraisers is a Chili Supper, where we tell stories of God working, feed people a good meal, and ask them to consider a contribution.  It's a pretty good fundraiser (if I may say so myself.)

But we realized something funny at our event this year: A good percentage (30%? 50%?) of our guests come with their check already made out and seal it in our gift envelope before we've even gotten started.  They haven't had a bite to eat or heard one story of God working, yet they have already decided to financially support our work.

Why?

I'm guessing because they had already bought into our ministry in the first place.  We had already built their trust and engaged them to the point they were ready to give.  And we did it all before the fundraiser even happened.

Just a thought if you're holding a big shindig to raise money... your best work might have already happened.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A debt snowball

But not the Dave Ramsey kind.

Let's say that a healthy relationship with your spouse takes 30 minutes of focused time each day.  Sure you'll spend a lot of other time together doing a lot of other things, but to really build that growing and lasting friendship you need 30 minutes of time where you can just focus on each other.

30 minutes a day is 182.5 hours a year.

In ten years that's 1,825 hours of time you've spent focusing on each other, equivalent to 76 twenty-four hour days.

If you've done that your first ten years of marriage, you have an incredible amount of marriage "interest" in the bank to help get you through tough times.

If you haven't, your marriage debt is huge.  An almost insurmountable snowball.  To make it up you'll need to take 3 months off of work and spend all of it just focusing on each other.

Or you could spend 30 minutes today.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's easy to miss something...

... if you're not looking for it.

Which is why we need to have our eyes open.  And why it's okay to read something you don't agree with (or maybe you flat-out disagree with it.)

Engaging other worldviews and thought processes doesn't cheapen yours.  (And believe me when I say I have 100% confidence my worldview is correct.)  But hearing and considering other people's ideas, big or small, helps refine and strengthen your own.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll find out something you didn't know.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cult - ure

What's the difference between a cult and a culture?

From modern vernacular a cult is a crazy something on the fringe of society that the general population isn't too sure about.  A culture is what a society produces, embodies, and (for lack of a better word) "is."

Is our job as followers of Christ to be a cult or to change the culture?

Maybe we should be a little bit of both: We shouldn't be afraid of being "weird" and we should also  seek to change our world.

I think the trouble comes when we focus on creating/maintaining/sustaining a Christian culture instead of just living the way Christ called us, even if that way feels a little weird to other folks.

Those three little letters (u.r.e.) make quite the change don't they?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nupedia anyone?

Few people now know that the internet encyclopedia giant Wikipedia was actually preceded by Nupedia.

The key difference between the two was that Nupedia was designed for experts to submit articles, and had a 7 step review process before articles went live.  In its first year, the experts at Nupedia posted only 21 articles.  Not the type of encyclopedia that's very helpful.

Wikipedia started as a side project of Nupedia, a way to generate some more ideas and grow involvement.  But it quickly passed it by.  (Understatement!)  In its first year Wikipedia posted over 18,000 articles.

What changed?  Experts and reviews were no longer needed.  They took away the slowing "pinch-point" and it exploded.

What's the lesson?  It's almost scary to write this:  If you're the expert you might need to get out of the way.  You might be all about growth but have a "review process" that slows the growth you're seeking.

21 vs. 18000.  I'll let you decide.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Expecting a Tax Return?

I know not everyone gets a tax refund.  But for those of us that do, this is probably worth reading:

It's easy to think about your tax refund as a cash bonus from Uncle Sam that you can spend on whatever you want, but I'm not so sure that's a good and Godly response.

All of our money, wherever it comes from, belongs to God anyway.  And just like with our regular income, we should seek to honor God with 'lump-sum' incomes that come our way as well.  A few questions and points that may be helpful:
  • What percentage of your regular income are you giving away?  I would think about matching that percentage with your refund.
  • Do you have any pressing needs that this extra money can help you take care of?
  • Do you have anything you are (or should be) saving for?  
  • We shouldn't spend all of our tax refund at nice restaurants in April and then complain in June of not having enough money to buy beans and bread.
In general, the less impulse-ridden your money decisions are, the better.  So if you're expecting a tax refund, plan to honor God with it now, before it arrives.

Repost from March 2013.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Would you rather...

When I make a request of someone I'd rather receive a genuine and quick "No" than a half-hearted and delayed "Yes."

I'm not sure how I do in reciprocating that:  It's easier to stall and delay, or try to think of an excuse for why you can't do it than it is to just turn someone down quickly and kindly.

Just say Yes if you can and No if you can't.  I think it's that simple.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What about life outside of your ministry?

This is directed at my friends in ministry, and includes myself.

How would you rate your ministry on a scale of 1-10.  Don't think too hard. Just rate it.

What about your marriage?  1-10.

Your personal spiritual life?  1-10.

Your parenting? 1-10.

Your friendships? 1-10.

Are they all the same?  Ideally they are all 10s, but I think if we're honest with ourselves we put the most work into the ministry.  And maybe we even wear success in ministry as a badge, hoping to cover up lower scores in the rest of our life.

Jesus had a life outside of his times of ministry.  How do you think he scored?

If you want to chat more on this, join me and other youth workers at 11:30 Thursday at 700 Main in Peoria.  It should be fun.  Plus COCUSA's buying lunch.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tips for a good marriage

In advance of Valentines Day I'm offering these tips to all the guys out there.

Actually it's just one tip:  (And you don't have to buy anything.)

LOSE THE SCREEN.

I'm not sure which screen is your issue, but you probably have one that needs to go.

TV: I'm still surprised how much time people waste watching TV (even people that I often look up to in other areas).  I don't know how you can expect to grow your relationship with your wife when you're spending 2 hours a day watching TV.  If you can't get rid of your TV (because it's built into the foundation of your house or something... I'm not sure why you couldn't) then at least move it out of your bedroom.

Computer: We'll pick on Netflix here, as I've heard more than one person reference getting rid of cable TV to get Netflix.  You might be saving a little money, but you just traded screen time for screen time.  If you truly need a computer, set yourself some hard limits.

Phone: I'm in this category. Just put it down when you're at home.  Leave it somewhere and only check it or grab it if you need to.  (The less data or wifi you use the better.)

There you go, one free easy way to improve your marriage.  Don't believe me?  Try it and see.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Getting Better

Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google once said: "We knew that Google was going to get better every single day as we worked on it, and we knew that sooner or later, everyone was going to try it.  So our feeling was that the later you tried it, the better it was for us because we'd make a better impression with better technology. So we were never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better."*

That quote has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now because it's so counter intuitive.  How could you not want everyone in the world to know about your product or service as immediately as possible?

Are you focused enough on improving what you do and what you create that you actually believe it will be better if people wait to try it?

Maybe instead of finding more fans, buyers or donors, we should just get better.

*From The Dip, by Seth Godin, pg 68

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Give them a new leader

One day the Lord said to Moses, “Climb one of the mountains east of the river, and look out over the land I have given the people of Israel. After you have seen it, you will die like your brother, Aaron, for you both rebelled against my instructions in the wilderness of Zin. When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate my holiness to them at the waters.” (These are the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) Then Moses said to the lord, “O lord, you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Please appoint a new man as leader for the community.  Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." - Numbers 27:12-17
Faced with the end of his own life and failure to reach the promised land due to the consequences of his sin, what does Moses do?

Does he whine and complain?  Does he say "good riddance" to the nation that had caused him so much personal strife and anguish?  Do he barter with God for a little more time or access to the promised land?

None of those.  He simply asks that God will provide a new leader when he is gone: a guide and shepherd for the people.

When we move on to something new:  Are we thinking only of ourselves?  Are we glad to leave the old behind?  Or are we praying for someone new and better to come take our place?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Learning from sadness

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
After all, everyone dies: so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

So the question coming out of any time of mourning for a lost loved one is this: What have you learned?  Are you refined in any way?

Brittany's grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago.  I think I learned a couple things:
1) Leading and influence doesn't require you to be loud.
2) Family time is an important thing for fathers to create and protect.

Now the challenge for the living is to actually put those things into practice.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Selfish

Getting married is (or should be) a crash-course lesson in putting other people before yourself.  I didn't think I was a selfish guy before I got married, but I soon learned hundreds of different ways I put myself first.

Having a kid is similar.  It's a like a little hand-held mirror that lets you see places you didn't realize you were still selfish.

Now that I have a lovely wife and 5 little hand-held mirrors I think I'm pretty much cured of being selfish.

And then I decided to get a dog...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Church Squared

I'm excited to be starting something new at my home church!  So much so that I wanted to post information about it here.


Church [squared] is a discussion-oriented church gathering with built-in fellowship, accountability and prayer time.  Join us as we connect with each other, learn from the Bible together, pray for each other, and help each other grow.

Sundays 9:30-10:30
Starting February 1, 2015

Pekin Bible Church
Fellowship Hall
2405 Court St
Pekin IL 61554

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review of Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

I just finished Permission Marketing by Seth Godin.  I originally read it because I used the term "Permission Fundraising" in my book Partner Like Paul and I wanted to see if it could refine some of my fundraising ideas.

I think everything in my fundraising book is still accurate.  However, this book was so much about marketing that I really couldn't give you any specific take-aways for fundraising.  (Maybe I'll write another book and call it Permission Fundraising so I can meld the two ideas together.)

All that being said, I would highly recommend Permission Marketing to anyone seeking to do build any sort of business.  It's an older book (Amazon was just a start-up and only sold books), but it shows a path of marketing companies, services and products that is immensely cheaper and more valuable than the interruption marketing most people still default to today.  In fact, I can think of a few telemarketers, junk mail senders and spammers I should send this book to!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Live Generously

When's the last time you did something spontaneously generous?

I'm writing this to myself as much as anybody.  I'm a great "planned generosity" guy.  Send me a letter, ask for help... so long as I have time to consider it, I'm good and will probably give something.

But how often do you or I respond to God's promptings to be spontaneously generous?  I've heard someone say: "If you have the thought you should give something to someone, it's probably not the devil telling you that."

If you can afford to go to a coffee shop this week, you can probably afford to pick up coffee for the guy in line behind you.  If you're meeting a friend for lunch, you can probably pick up his tab.



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Task your goals

The first step is thinking of some general goals for your life.

Second, take those goals and make them SMART.

But finally, you need to create some tasks related to those goals.  Below are how I sought to do that with some of my own goals.  (Again, this is just to provide a picture of how you make and keep good goals.)

Goal: Be more of a spiritual friend than a Christian buddy.
SMART Goal: Once each day, ask someone how I can pray for them, then pray for them then or write it down to pray later.
Task: Add a reminder to my phone, set to go off mid morning so I have time to look and find someone.

Keep this blog going.
SMART: Post twice a week on this blog, scheduling posts for May 15-August 17.
Task: Put this weekly goal down on my morning to-do list.  

Read my Bible daily.
SMART: Read my Bible daily, including Saturdays.
Task: Add a reminder to my phone for Saturday afternoons.


Invite people over for dinner weekly.
SMART: Each Sunday, look a week ahead and invite someone over for dinner.
Task: Add this SMART task to my Sunday tasks, including a list of people to invite over.

Excel in my new role at COCUSA.
SMART: Write down a 15 in 15 SMART list for COCUSA by January 15.
Task: Better add this to my COCUSA task list!

Maybe these seem obvious.  ("Put it on your to-do list" is far from new advice.)  But from what I've noticed this is the biggest step missed when it comes to keeping and excelling at goals.

Or you could just make some New Year's Resolutions and never do anything about them.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review of The Story

I just finished reading The Story to my older kids.  This is essentially the Bible, but edited to have just the storyline, with italicized text added to provide transitions when needed.  We read it during our bedtime routine for about the past year.

It seems funny to review the Bible, so I won't do that.

I will say that overall, The Story provided a decent overview of the Biblical narrative.  I also think it could have been better.  They got most of the stories right, but I often was scratching my head at the parts that they skipped over.  In addition, I stopped reading most of the italicized text because it wasn't very good or helpful.  Whoever wrote it was going more for superlative English that sounded fancy than they were attempting to connect the Bible stories together.

All that said, I would still recommend it if you're unfamiliar with the Biblical story line and want a quick way to get your mind around it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A SMART 2015

So those 15 goals/ideas for 2015... how are those going?

For me, I finally got around to making them SMART.  I offer them here only to show a little bit of the thought process behind making and setting good goals.

Share the Gospel with 15 people.
SMART: Every time I find myself waiting, pray and look for an opportunity to share the Good News.

Be on my phone less.
SMART: When at home, put my phone down. Do not carry it with me.

Be more of a spiritual friend than a Christian buddy.
SMART: Once each day, ask someone how I can pray for them, then pray for them then or write it down to pray later.

Eat less sugar.
SMART: Eat a max of one polite sugar snack each day.

Keep this blog going.
SMART: Post twice a week on this blog, scheduling posts for May 15-August 17.

Spend daily focused time with each member of my family.
SMART: Spend five minutes of focused time with each of my kids each day.

Listen through the whole Bible.
SMART: Turn on the audio Bible for any car rides longer than 20 minutes.

Read my Bible daily.
SMART: Read my Bible daily, including Saturdays.

Write out more of my prayer requests.
SMART: Write out at least one prayer request per week.

Train our puppy to be a good dog.
SMART: By May, train Lincoln to sit/stay and come. Also housebreaking and feeding!

Invite people over for dinner weekly.
SMART: Each Sunday, look a week ahead and invite someone over for dinner.

Train and disciple people to follow Jesus and help others follow Jesus.
SMART: On Monday mornings look through my upcoming meetings and note any questions or challenges I can provide to help people follow Jesus.

Be less worried about the time.
SMART: If I find myself checking the time, set an alarm and don't look at the time until the alarm goes off.

Excel in my new role at COCUSA.
SMART: Write down a 15 in 15 SMART list for COCUSA by January 15.

Finish up a few more big house projects.
SMART: Install six new windows by May.

What's next after these?  Add them to your task list.  We'll cover that next week.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What do you want to read about?

In a lot of ways this blog is a blog about nothing.  I meander from topic to topic and definitely do not have an overarching theme.  And in all honestly I like it that way.  The "stream of consciousness" style blog helps me sort my thoughts and develop ideas.

But all the same I'd love to write what is helpful to you, my readers.

So could you take ten seconds and hit reply or comment and let me know what you want to read about?

Much obliged.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Quick! (before the holiday euphoria wears off)  Grab a pen and paper and write down 15 things you want to do in 2015.

Don't worry about making them sound like New Year's Resolutions, because those don't normally work anyway. Just write 15 things that you want to do better, focus on more, or be about.

Here's mine (in no particular order):
  • Share the Gospel with 15 people.
  • Be on my phone less
  • Be more of a spiritual friend than a Christian buddy
  • Eat less sugar
  • Keep this blog going
  • Spend daily focused time with each member of my family
  • Listen through the whole Bible
  • Read my Bible daily
  • Write out more of my prayer requests
  • Train our puppy to be a good dog
  • Invite people over for dinner weekly
  • Train and disciple people to follow Jesus and help others follow Jesus 
  • Be less worried about the time
  • Excel in my new role at COCUSA
  • Finish up a few more big house projects
If you want to go a step farther, look at your 15 goals and try to make them SMART.  (Although be careful, you might actually change the world if you get too serious about these!)