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Ponder Time July 21, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Personal Growth.
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I am writing this on an extended weekend with our family. Our three sons, two daughters-in-laws, and two grandkids are all together.

Sitting on the porch of this lake home, conversations have covered a range of topics. But one that we briefly touched on stood out—what helps us to slow down to take time to reflect.

I haven’t modeled this well for my family. I often bring work home with me. I do a lot of email during the evenings. I stay busy.

But in the midst of our busy lives, we need to take time to rest and reflect. Vacations, or small retreats like this one, are great. But, we also need to carve out times in our routine to reflect and consider how God is ordering the events in our lives.

Rick, our oldest, is on Cru staff. He’s married to a great woman, Christina, and together they have a girl and a boy. They love staff life. But one of the things Rick does in the midst of the busy life that it entails is to hunt.

The sport skipped a generation in my family. My dad and brothers do. And I used to hunt until I went away to college. But I never got back into the sport. Rick finds that sitting in a stand waiting for game helps him to pull away from the many things that vie for attention. He can set aside those distractions, disconnect from the busyness, and have time to reflect and consider.

For most of you reading this, your campus ministry will gear up in a big way in a month. Those first four to six weeks will be incredibly fast-paced and exhausting. This time of the year is so strategic as students are determining what they will give allegiance to during that time. You will want to make the most of that critical time of the year.

Are you getting time now, prior to the start of the campus year, to reflect, ponder, consider? Whether it is a bona fide vacation, or just snatches of time in the midst of your routine, you need to prioritize time to contemplate. Consider,

  • What is God doing in and through your life?
  • What is your unique contribution to the cause of Christ?
  • Are you equipped for that calling, not just with skills, but with the emotional fortitude for what God has for you?
  • Are you contemplating how the people in your life, the events and circumstances you are experiencing, along with your dreams and desires are being woven together by the Lord?

We’ll talk some more about this next week. But in the meantime…

Have a great week being a savory aroma of Christ.

Without Fanfare. July 14, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Spirit-Filled Life.
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Several years ago, I officiated a wedding in historic Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. First, I was both nervous and excited to do the wedding. But, second, to perform the ceremony in such an auspicious chapel was something else.

If you don’t know anything about Loretto Chapel, it has a beautiful spiral staircase with as much legend as beauty surrounding it.

(From WorldAtlas.com.)

You can read for yourself about the staircase, the engineering behind it, and the circumstances of how it was built.

Part of the legend surrounds the mysterious carpenter. Supposedly, he disappeared before he was paid and attempts to find him were fruitless. Those who debunk the legend are silent about the anonymity of the carpenter.

It is an interesting story. But the point is, a man entered town, saw the need that the sisters had for a staircase in their chapel, and built it without pay or fanfare.

  • Do we do our work without fanfare?
  • Do we need to be recognized, affirmed, thanked, appreciated, or told how great we are?
  • Are we able to serve in obscurity, behind the scenes, content if only God sees?

As one whose first love language is “words of affirmation”, this is particularly hard for me. I enjoy the encouragement and affirmation of others. Maybe you do too.

As ministers of the Gospel, we are called upon to serve the Lord with our whole hearts. God is our audience, and we serve, work, and do “as unto Him”.

  • Consider today, do you want the words of praise from men more or those from the Lord.
  • Ask Him for contentment in whatever circumstance (Phil. 4:13) you find yourself, including whether or not you have people around you who appreciate you or not
  • Ask Him for the willingness to will and to do of His good pleasure, regardless.

Tips in the “Better Minister” series:

- giving gifts,
- use of words,
- being inspiring,
- power of vulnerability,
- contagious emotion,
- understanding connectors, and
- extending grace.


Bi- and Tri- Lingual Posters July 11, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Communication.
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It is the little things that make a huge difference.

Dan Allan, National Director of Operations Pacific Southwest Region, recently wrote me about an idea that I thought was really good. He suggested repeating the message in our posters and banners in two or three other languages frequently spoken on our particular campuses.

He got the idea by looking at posters on campuses in California and noticing sometimes five to eight different languages on some bulletin boards.

Dan suggested repeating the messages in the bottom couple inches of our signage. It need not take up that much room, but would have some distinct advantages for us.

  1. It would remind our involved students that we are mindful of international students and others whose first language is not English.
  2. It would be welcoming to those students and they might possibly see us a warm, caring option for involvement outside their own community.
  3. Incoming students might view us as progressive and inclusive of others as they see our information in multiple languages.

Now, we might need to be prepared to meet folks who don’t speak English. But, what a great way to expand our own vision and, possibly, form other contextualized groups and movements on our campuses.

In last week’s Coaching Tip, I referred to Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son. God is calling us to be like the father in the parable, extending grace to others. Using other languages spoken on our campuses in our signage could be one way for us to lead in being a welcoming community.

Extending Grace Like the Father July 6, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Personal Growth, Spirit-Filled Life.
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I am focusing these summer tips on becoming a better minister, addressing character and perspective, rather than technique or strategy. (For a list of tips in this series, see below.)

Today, let me share something I posted a few years ago regarding Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son.

He reflected on that very familiar parable and insight he gained after observing Rembrandt’s painting of the same name.

Most of us readily identify with one wayward son or the other, or both. We have all had moments of rebellion, taking what is ours and leaving the One who loves us to pursue our own agendas. And, honestly, many of us struggle with envy, resentment, self-righteousness and a twinge of “I do this for the Lord and what do I get for it?”

But I was struck by the thought about our becoming like the father in the parable. A colleague of Nouwen’s challenged him at one point.
“Whether you are the younger son or the elder son, you have to realize that you are called to become the father…The time has come for you to claim your true vocation—to be a father who can welcome his children home…”  p. 22.

The book is Noewen’s reflections on the younger son, then the elder son and, finally, the father.
“A child does not remain a child. A child becomes an adult. An adult becomes father and mother. When the prodigal son returns home, he returns not to remain a child, but to claim his sonship and become a father himself. As the returned child of God who is invited to resume my place in my Father’s home, the challenge now, yes the call, is to become the Father myself. I am awed by this call. For a long time I have lived with the insight that returning to my Father’s home was the ultimate call. It has taken me much spiritual work to make the elder son as well as the younger son in me turn around and receive the welcoming love of the Father. The fact is that, on many levels, I am still returning. But the closer I come to home the clearer becomes the realization that there is a call beyond the call to return. It is the call to become the Father who welcomes home and calls for a celebration. Having reclaimed my sonship, I now have to claim fatherhood. When I first saw Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, I could never have dreamt that becoming the repentant son was only a step on the way to becoming the welcoming father. I now see that the hands that forgive, console, heal and offer a festive meal must become my own.”  pp. 118,119.

Consider what it means to live at home with our Father.

  • What does it mean for us to become mothers and fathers welcoming home those who do not yet know Him?
  • Do we consciously extend God’s grace to those who have never experienced it?
  • How do we show the wayward and self-righteous a faith of hope and a life of joy, belonging and purpose?

May we see the renown of our Lord permeate the lives of those we touch.

Tips in the “Better Minister” series:

- giving gifts,
- use of words,
- being inspiring,
- power of vulnerability,
- contagious emotion, and
- understanding connectors.

Connectors June 30, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Communication, Leadership.
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Last week I referred to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, his insightful look at the causes of social epidemics.

I said,
“In a very real way, we want our movements on campus to become social epidemics. Gladwell suggests ‘the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.’ p. 33. He calls it “The Law of the Few” and focuses on ‘connectors, mavens, and salesmen.’ ”

I focused on his interesting insight that emotion often moves from the outside to the inside. We can influence the emotions of those we are talking with in very tangible ways.

This week I want to go back to The Tipping Point to focus on Gladwell’s “connectors”. As ministers of the Gospel and leaders, we should be aware that, though every soul has value and is precious in God’s eyes, not every soul touches the same number of people.

Connectors have a great ability to make friends and build relationships. They can relate to people in different worlds and social networks. Gladwell says, “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” p. 49.

Here is an example of a social network that I pulled from Google Images. It happens to be a map of the University of Minnesota’s Extension program relating to other organizations. It illustrates that while we are connected to anyone else by just a few steps, some of those steps are significant connectors. Most paths are going through the same people.

Starting with the black square in the middle, they built a relationship with those identified by the blue, green, orange and yellow squares. They in turn touch the red people.

You could spend all your time talking with the red folks, but think how many you could touch if you saw one or two connectors on your campus come to Christ. Relational networks are the carrier of the Gospel.

A disclaimer is appropriate at this point. Don’t ignore the little people! It’s not all about being strategic. But do recognize that with limited people, financial, time and energy resources, how can we strategically make the greatest impact possible?

Whether you’re seeking to launch a ministry on a new campus or in a new community, or whether you’re growing an existing ministry, why not consider who the connectors are and make an concerted effort to reach them.

Saul was a connector who became Paul.

  • Who are the Sauls on your campuses?
  • Are you comfortable reaching out to Sauls?
  • If not, is there someone you can team up with that will help you develop the skills necessary to relate to these Sauls?

Contagious Emotion June 23, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Communication.
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Malcolm Gladwell published a fascinating book in 2000 about the causes of social epidemics, The Tipping Point. A fad, a fashion, a positive or negative public opinion, or habits can become social epidemics. One such example today is the “selfie”.

In a very real way, we want our movements on campus to become social epidemics. Gladwell suggests “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” p. 33. He calls it “The Law of the Few” and focuses on “connectors, mavens and salesmen.”

In a social sense, as ministers of the Gospel, we are salesmen. We may not like that term, but we are. Salesmen understand, often intuitively, the role of mimicry. Gladwell describes this way.

“…When two people talk, they don’t just fall into physical and aural harmony. The also engage in what is called, motor mimicry. If you show people pictures of a smiling face, or a frowning face, they will smile or frown back, although perhaps only in muscular changes so fleeting that they can only be captured with electronic sensors. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, most people watching will grimace: they will mimic my emotional state. This is what is meant, in the technical sense, by empathy. We imitate each other’s emotions as a way of expressing support and caring and, even more basically, as a way of communicating with each other.

“In their brilliant, 1994 book Emotional Contagion, the psychologists Elaine Hatfield and John Cacioppo, and the historian Richard Rapson go one step further. Mimicry, they argue, is also one of the means by which we infect each other with our emotions. In other words, if I smile and you see me and smile in response—even a microsmile that takes more than several milliseconds—is not just you imitating or empathizing with me. It may also be a way that I can pass on my happiness to you period. Emotion is contagious. In a way, this is perfectly intuitive. All of us have had our spirits picked up by being around somebody in a good mood. If you think about this closely, though, it’s quite a radical notion. We normally think of the expressions on our face as the reflection of the inner state. I feel happy, so I smile period. I feel sad, so I frown. Emotion goes inside-out. Emotional contagion, though, suggests that the opposite is also true. If I can make you smile, I can make you happy period. If I can make you frown, I can make you sad. Emotion, in this sense, goes outside-in.

“If we think about emotion this way—as outside-in, not inside-out—it is possible to understand how some people can have an enormous amount of influence over others period. Some of us, after all, are very good at expressing emotions and feelings, which means that we are far more emotionally contagious than the rest of us…” pp. 84-85.

How aware are you of emotion working from the outside-in? You can significantly influence in little ways. Are you the kind of person that smiles, laughs easily, projects enjoyment to be around? Do you make a good impression? These are all part of being winsome and emotionally contagious.

I am by nature rather serious, and a true introvert as well. These things don’t come easily for me. But I am getting better at nodding when a person talks, listening intently, smiling, expressing empathy, and asking follow up questions in order to engage on a heart level.

Pick out a friend who has such skills, watch how they engage with others and consider what you might imitate yourself. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 NIV.

The Power of Vulnerability June 16, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Leadership, Personal Growth.
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This summer I am focusing these Coaching Tips on making us better ministers. Not better resources or better strategies, but becoming the kind of person God will use more effectively in the lives of others.

I began with
Give a gift, not a guilt.

Words can build others up or build me up.

Last week I passed along a TED talk by Simon Sinek called Inspiring Others to Action. It generated some great feedback.

This week I commend to you another TED talk that you may have heard about before. It is Brené Brown’s, “The Power of Vulnerability.”

With humor, a bit of her own story and personal journey, and her training in social work, she talks about the role of vulnerability in the person who wants to make a difference. This one will make you think.

The Spirit-filled Life and Prayer June 13, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Prayer, Spirit-Filled Life.
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Last Fall the Student LINC and Coaching Center teams read A Praying Life: Connecting With God In a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller. I liken it to “the Spirit-filled life learns how to pray.”

Far from a “how to” book on prayer, Miller’s life and the things he learned through difficult circumstances are a great example and motivation for living a surrendered life in communion with God.

Our team really enjoyed the book and it generated rich discussion each week. If you’re looking for a book this summer to stimulate you to walk closer with the Lord and grow in your own prayer life, why not consider this one.

Click here to get the paperback or Kindle version.

Inspiring Others to Action June 9, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Communication.
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Just by way of reminder, I am continuing my coaching tips over the summer. My emphasis is on helping you be a better minister.

Today, I am asking this question:
How do you communicate your vision?

If you’re like me you may find yourself answering questions the person hasn’t asked. We address the “what?” and “how?” before we have answered the “why?”.

Whether you’re casting vision to a potential ministry partner, or a freshman, or potential volunteer, Simon Sinek’s TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action offer’s great insight.

Now, this was filmed five years ago and some of his examples are dated. Nevertheless, Sinek’s model of the golden circle inspires cooperation, trust and change.

Simon Sinek is author of “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Last.”

If you want to get better at inspiring others to action, let me encourage you to set aside 18 minutes to listen to this insightful TED talk.

Previous Tips

- Give a gift, not a guilt.
- Words.

TED Talks

If you’re not familiar with TED, their webpage says it “is a platform for ideas worth spreading. Started in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, TED today shares ideas from a broad spectrum—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages.”

Words. June 2, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Communication.
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I was shopping at my favorite home and garden store recently. Now, my normal shopping experience there is very good. I like their store and I have had good service and knowledgeable help over the years.

However, this day, I was going through self check-out. They had new keypads since I my last visit. When I reached the screen asking about cash back I pushed the button for “No cash”. Nothing happened. I kept pushing with my finger, harder each time. Still nothing.

I waited for a cashier to finish with her customer. When I got her attention and explained that the screen wouldn’t move forward, she simply said, “Use the pen.” Of course! I felt stupid and I was embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of that. (Now, it’s very possible that this is more about my own insecurity and my need to be right.)

Again, I like that store. This isn’t about them. But as drove away, my experience caused me to wonder about a couple of things.

First, could the cashier have helped minimize my looking stupid in front of the other customers? She obviously knew that the keypad would only respond to the pen and not my finger. How different it would have been if she had said, “Try the pen to see if that works.” Instead, I felt belittled by her blunt “Use the pen.” statement.

But I also wondered how I make others feel when I’m ministering. When we teach, preach, disciple, mentor, coach or give advice, we really are in a position of advantage.

Do I in some subtle way come across better, more knowledgeable, or authoritative? Or when I respond to others, do I, in anyway, belittle, embarrass, or inadvertently make them feel inferior?

For the most part those we minister to know that we have understanding and experience. Many of them think they could never do what we do. Our job is to help them see their potential, to help them see the joy of personal discovery and gain confidence in their own ability to learn, understand, and make a difference.

Do my words build up others? Or do they build up me?


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