Category Archives: Personal Growth

CoJourneying with a Wider Audience

You’ve probably seen this Journey Grid before. It’s a construct that helps us understand where someone is on their spiritual journey. The X-axis shows the Scale of Belief and the  29354772_557753214597459_7082904714142011143_oY-axis the level of benefit they’ve received from Cru. You know someone in every audience.

Most of us tend to focus our work on the C, D, G, and H Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.22.03 AMaudiences. But if you are like me, you often wonder how we could do more with those who would assign themselves to the lower and left parts of the grid.

I’ve come to realize that the answer isn’t what could I do, but, rather, what could we do?

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.32.11 AMWe actually have a team in Cru who specifically thinks about helping us help others progress to where they want to go spiritually. It is called our Cru Concierge. I can see skepticism right now as you’re reading these words! But, here is how Ryan McReynolds, Campus Ministry Director of Marketing, describes the work of our concierge.

“The purpose of her role is similar to a hotel concierge: to offer help so that each person can get where they want to go. 
“Cru and hotels are institutions/organizations. And many people are skeptical of institutions. It is very common to hear people say, “I’m not a fan of organized religion”. 
“However, you never hear people say, “I’m not a fan of organized medicine”. That’s because when people are in pain or ill, they just want help; and organized help is much more effective than the alternative. People are grateful for effective help and this can overcome their distrust of an institution.
“The goal of the Concierge is to offer help that is as personal and friendly as possible and yet organized to be as effective as possible to meet people’s needs. 
“Cru is so large that we have lots to offer, but it must be offered in a very personal way in order for people to trust and receive what is offered. That is the role of the concierge.”

 

Our Coaching Center team received the names of over 3500 Christians this year who attended a partnering organization’s events. We worked hard to try to find those interested Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.28.32 AMin starting a movement on their campus. We were specifically looking for K’s to become L’s and H’s. And we found some. But after we did our initial pass, we forwarded the lists to the Concierge. In their “very personal way” they were able to surface dozens more interested folks. And that was during April, the worst month of the year to do this!

Our Concierge uses some simple surveys and tools with a proven track record in providing spiritual input and benefit for others. And if you are using MissionHub, you already have a huge start in being able to provide continued spiritual value to those who might have “slipped though the cracks”.

Does this sound compelling to you? Maybe you are a mom looking for a way to impact students. Or maybe you want to be a better Guide to help more students in their spiritual journeys. Contact concierge@cru.org to learn more.

Previous Coaching Tips

 

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Different Cultural Frames of Reference.

One of the values we are currently embracing in Cru is growing in cultural competency. With that in mind our Student LINC and Coaching Center team is reading Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah.

We’ve had some really good discussions as we process each week’s chapter assignment. But twenty minutes really only just gets us started.

If you haven’t read Many Colors, chapter four defines some scales helpful in understanding how we process information, how we relate to one another, and how we lead or view leadership. I will list them with the simplest of definitions.

1. Individual vs. Group Orientation

  • Individual: Takes individual initiative, makes decisions individually, prioritizes individuals are above the group.
  • Group: Acting cooperatively, makes decisions as a group, conform to social norms, puts the team before individuals.

2. Guilt vs. Shame

  • Guilt. Responsible for individual sin resulting from individual action, corrected by confession.
  • Shame. Responsible for corporate sin, focus is on becoming a person of honor, corrected by transformation.

3. Equality vs. Hierarchy

  • Equality. Self-directed, individual initiative, flexible roles and expectations, offers own opinion.
  • Hierarchy. Directions from above, leader controlled, firm roles and expectations, respect status of leaders.

4. Direct vs. Indirect

  • Direct. Focus is on what is said, engage in conflict, focus on information, express opinions in frank manner.
  • Indirect. Focus on how it is said, avoid conflict, focus on feeling, express opinions diplomatically.

5. Task vs. Relationship

  • Task. Focus on keeping good time, accurate information, define people by what they do, logic orientation.
  • Relationship. Focus on building relationships, create a feel-good atmosphere, define people by who they know, feeling orientation.

Some of these scales of interaction are more easily grasped than others. One end of the spectrum is not right or wrong compared with the other. It’s a matter of understanding different cultural frames of reference. You may have found yourself, like I did, identifying one way or the other depending upon the context or group you’re part of. But all of this is to help us appreciate and value those who approach communication, relationships, and leadership differently.

Previous Coaching Tips

 

Gap Year

Starting Fall 2018, Cru is launching our first ever Gap Year missions. A Global Gap Year is a 9-month adventure that will transform lives, give opportunities to trust God in greater ways, and to share the Gospel with high school students across the globe.

Recent high school grads will spend 2 months of personal training and development in Orlando followed by 3 months each in Africa and South America, working alongside Cru high school ministries in each country.

  • Do you know high school students who would be a good fit for this mission? They can indicate their interest here and high school’s Global Missions team will provide them more information.
  • Would you be interested in leading a gap year team?

Did you know that

  • Only 56% of all students entering college graduate with a degree within six years?
  • Or that an estimated 75% of all college students change majors at least once. Many as much as three times.
  • Or that 30 % of all freshmen drop out of college after the first year?
  • (Statistics come from the collegeatlas.org and American Gap Association.)

A few colleges support gap years. According to their websites, Harvard encourages students to defer enrollment for one year to take a gap year. And Princeton offers a Bridge Year Program that allows students to engage in a 9-month University sponsored international service project.

Why a Gap Year

  • To pursue other passions.
  • A chance to regroup and rediscover.
  • Find clarity about the future.
  • Help to develop a worldview.
  • Help alleviate academic burnout.
  • Improved career opportunities.

Benefits of a Gap Year

  • Better prepared for college.
  • Better sense of self.
  • A more focused student.
  • Typically higher GPA’s.
  • Better problem solving skills.
  • Better chance of graduating in 4 years.
  • Tend not to change majors.

Obviously, the high school ministry will benefit from their participation, as they will help launch new high school movements and provide lift to existing ministries. But Gap Year team members will benefit from the training they will receive in evangelism, discipleship and movement launching, and personally from this rich development experience.

To learn more go here, to indicate your interest fill out this form, or to talk with someone about Gap Year contact Jill.johnson@cru.org.

Fall Coaching Tips

How to Finish When You Can’t See the Finish Line.

I participate in a MapMyRun phone app challenge called “You vs. the Year.” Last year’s goal was to complete 1000KM but was upped to 1017KM this year.

At this writing, I have 200KM yet to go. Yup, I’m behind. (I’ll spare you the injury report you often get with obsessive runners.) But last year at this time, I received this notice:

“You’ve covered 900KM and that’s no joke. You’re only 100KM away from reaching the end, but we’re not here for the prizes or even for the finish line. We’re here for everything that comes before that. The beautiful struggle, the epic triumph, and the will to say you run with fight. Let’s get it done.”

We still have 6 weeks left in the semester. The goal isn’t to get through it, but to walk with God every day and see what He will do. So how do we keep the “beautiful struggle” and “epic triumph” at this point in the semester.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of the semester, it’s hard to see where we’re going. The end of the semester isn’t right around the corner.

There is still of ton of ministry to do between now and Christmas break with our Winter Conferences, FastBreaks, etc. There’s recruiting. There’s training. There’s delegation. There’s work to do on MPD. There are things that aren’t done yet, like that stack of contacts, thank you notes, that hard conversation with someone you’ve been avoiding.

How do we move forward in the face of the “woulda/coulda/shoulda’s”, the “what if’s”, and the “how am I gonna’s?” Here are a few things to keep it all in perspective. (Some of these come from an unpublished document written several years ago by a Campus Field Ministry National Team working group, Coaching to Shepherd.)

  1. Recognize the reality of fatigue, our discomfort with rejection, our tendency to compare ourselves and others, and when we have gone on auto-pilot in unhealthy ways. Simply recognizing these is a necessary first start.
  2. Keep your walk with the Lord your priority. Choose to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We know what that means. Confessing sin and being filled by faith.
  3. Choose to take thoughts captive. A number of years ago, I memorized 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These verses help me check what I am giving thought to.
  4. Finally, trust God that you are a fellow worker with God. (2 Corinthians 6:1 NIV) You are in partnership with Him in the details of your day, every step you take and every person you talk with. God has engineered the events in your life and theirs to bring about His purposes.

Here are two helpful resources: Emotional Well-Being and Leading by Dr. Mark McCloskey and Reading Your Gauges by Bill Hybels.

The ongoing monitoring that my phone app provides has helped me run more and be more consistent. In the same way, monitoring my walk with the Lord, along with my gauges and emotional well-being are keys to what I do and how I’m doing. We can’t change the outward circumstances, but we can change how we look at those circumstances.

Fall Coaching Tips

Caring for our People.

Much of what I’ve talked about in these tips so far this year speaks to ministry and strategy. But many of us are far enough into this campus year that we want to pay attention to the heart of our staff and leaders. We’ve worked hard to follow up and involve freshmen. It is understandable if we feel tired.

Several years ago, the old Campus Field Ministry national team had a focus on coaching. Various staff worked on “coaching to strategy” tools and others on “coaching to shepherd”.

In an unpublished article, the latter group used the “cycles of momentum” to identify common and predictable emotions that teams experience throughout the year. They categorized their work by
1. Typical emotions experienced,
2. Possible root issues, and
3. Resources and responses.

Their tool listed emotions, roots, and resources for every month of the campus year. As we’re more than half way through September, I am summarizing these for October.

Possible emotions experienced.

  • Weariness / Adrenaline letdown :: Can enter a funk. Real rest needed.
  • Do I have a life? Spouse? etc. :: A proper downshift is needed, and how do I do that?
  • May stop depending on the Lord and enter into default mode.
  • Is this worth it?

Possible root issues.

  • Owning that I have perhaps ignored myself, my family, etc.
  • Identity in ministry success :: An over personalization of results defining them.
  • Short term mindset :: Comparison & frustration with results.

Responses and resources.

  • Book // In the Name of Jesus (Nouwen)
  • Helping them take time to pause, reflect, celebrate, lift eyes up.
  • Article // Reading Your Gauges (Hybels)
  • Reminder of vision from coach/leadership, and pass it on.
  • Talk // Rescue the Dying (Hutchcraft)
  • Coaching toward leaving margin for high level priorities on Position Focus (i.e. Downshift). Tool // Position Focus. Tool // Review Job Description.

If you lead any kind of team, be mindful that you must coach to strategy and coach to shepherd. You are seeking to make a difference for Christ. And you are caring for your people in the process.

Fall Coaching Tips

The Habit of Serving at the Pleasure of Others.

I’m taking a few weeks to focus on the habits of leaders. Naturally, we think about the typical spiritual disciplines. But I think there are other habits like taking time to read, listen, think, and being generous, that are often overlooked.

Today, I want to focus on serving at the pleasure of others.

For most of 17 years, Chris and I led our church’s 13-week Marriage Preparation Class. We had a great team of teachers, mentors, and others helping put on the class. It was a singular privilege for us to be involved in setting the trajectory of some 1700 couples taking that class over those years.

Maybe once a year, we shared about our work with the class in a newsletter. Many of our ministry partners saw it as an interesting sidelight to our ministry. But aside from presenting the gospel to the whole class during each course, there was little to put on a ministry report. We were, in a fact, serving another ministry outside of our own.

This fact came home to me in a very tangible way. We had a long time instructor of a particular topic and we purposed to change the content and teaching approach. To do so meant asking someone else to lead that session. Anticipating that it might be a hard conversation, I was very encouraged when he graciously responded, “I serve at your pleasure.”

I wasn’t always in charge. Like the vast majority of Cru staff, I was new staff once, with two different team leaders in three years. Then I became a team leader in Rhode Island with staff reporting to me over the next eleven years. During that time, Chris and I became active in our church. I taught adult Sunday school classes, led home groups, participated in our worship band, was a governing elder, and even directed the Easter choir musical one year!

At the end of our years in Rhode Island, we moved to our headquarters in Florida and joined the Student LINC team. Chris and I chose to repeat our church experience and got involved in a church in our new community. In this one, over 3000 attended. No teaching adult Sunday school here. The worship band was made up of professionals and had no place for me. But there was a slot teaching a 2 and 3-year-old Sunday school class.

Again, Chris and I chose to serve for two years how and where we were needed…until a former Cru staff asked if we would consider mentoring in their Marriage Preparation Class.

I did not know it at the time, by as I look back, the pattern God used throughout was one in which I learned how to willingly serving others and not just in the areas that benefit the work of our own ministry. God does a valuable work in our hearts when we seek to advance the work of others. The lessons I learned in servant leadership, others-centered service, and collaborative teamwork, were often taught in the classroom of someone else’s authority, serving their purposes, and helping reach their goals. May we develop the habit of serving at the pleasure of others.

The Habit of Generosity.

Spiritual leaders cultivate habits. We generally think about those habits commonly called spiritual disciplines—the devotional life, studying the Word, prayer, worship, ministry, service, etc. They are important.

However, there are others often overlooked, such as taking time to read, listen, and think.

Today, let’s look at something a bit more others-focused—generosity. A generous person sows freely. It isn’t only with money, but with all the commodities we possess—praise, interest in others, time, energy, etc.

If a generous person is one who sows broadly, am I stingy, or am I generous? Do I offer praise grudgingly, or do I look for ways to genuinely affirm others? Do I give cheerfully? Am I free with my time and energy?

We all have constraints. None of us have unlimited time, treasure, and talent. But do I find myself hoarding and protecting, or do I distribute?

A few weeks ago, a friend of ours, Bob Emrick, suddenly passed away at 81. Chris and I knew him and his wife, Jodi, as long time mentors and part of our leadership team with our church’s Marriage Preparation Class. Those who stood to eulogize the man at his memorial service, focused on his generosity.

Bob was a star basketball player at the University of Florida and after 60 years is still one of the top 10 all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding. He was a successful businessman. Such accolades don’t usually lead automatically to the kind of reputation that Bob had as a humble, giving servant, willing to help any way he could.

After retirement Bob gave his time and talents to several charitable causes. His standard greeting to me was always, “Are you doing okay?”, automatically taking the focus away from him.

Several years ago, Bob and Jodi moved to an hour away from where we held class. But he continued to arrive by 7:30 each Sunday for set up. He made the coffee; and he didn’t even drink coffee! Bob surely was a generous man.

In today’s culture, leaders consolidate. They store up. They protect assets. But Jesus called attention to the widow with the two coins (Luke 21:2), the sinful woman anointing Him with an alabaster jar of perfume (Luke 7:36-50), and the boy with the lunch (John 6:9). It goes to the heart of who we think God is. Do we focus on how He lavished His grace upon us (Ephesians 1:3,8), or do we believe He is checking on us following the rules (Luke 19:21)?

Here’s one way we can be generous. Most of us will be eating out a lot this summer while on missions and at Cru17. Can we be a blessing to those who serve us by tipping more than what is expected?

I am certain that when generosity becomes a habit in one area of life, such as with our money, it pervades every aspect of life. And we will be more effective leaders when we are generous. Let us commit to a habit of generosity.