Category Archives: Spirit-Filled Life

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In an unpublished article, the latter group used the “cycles of momentum” to identify common and predictable emotions that teams experience throughout the year.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

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A tension: Only the interested or every person?

There’s a funny exchange in The Princess Bride. (Actually, there’s a lot that’s funny in that cult classic. That’s why it became a Kingsley family favorite when our boys were growing up.)

Fezzik, the giant, is wrestling The Man in Black, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Fezzik
: I just figured out why you give me so much trouble.
The Man in Black: Why is that, do you think?
Fezzik: Well, I haven’t fought just one person for so long. I’ve been specializing in groups. Battling gangs for local charities, that kind of thing.
The Man in Black: Why should that make such a difference?
Fezzik: Well you see, you use different moves when you’re fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to be worried about one.

That’s good to keep in mind as we begin the year. Most of us are busy here at the beginning of the year meeting with and trying to build relationships with as many as we can. Using surveys and other gathering devices, we’re trying to find the most interested students. Rather like Fezzik’s strategy of one on the many.

But we want to help our students understand that the critical event is one believer engaging with a nonbeliever over meaningful spiritual content. Every student is a part of different social networks, or oikos’— where they live, their program of study, where they work, and other associations.

Suppose they don’t find interested students within those social networks. Do they go someplace else for their ministry? No. We want to help them be salt and light in those oikos’.

One place to begin is to map the level of interest of each person in each oikos, using the Missional Map. They will notice that the first step with each person they encounter is building trust.

Next time, I will have some next steps for both the one on many and the one on one.

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.

Charity Toward Those Who Disagree With Us.

When we think about the habits of spiritual leaders, we typically think about the spiritual disciplines—the devotional life, studying the Word, prayer, worship, ministry, service, etc. They are important. But there are other habits often overlooked in our leadership development.

I talked about reading last week. Christian biographies, the works of Christian leaders, other aspects of the Christian life, and issues facing the church today are important. But so is reading the Classics, history, science, and other academic disciplines. It broadens our minds and sharpens our thinking.

So, also, is the habit of listening and engaging with those who disagree with us. I find that most Christians today are comfortable only with reading or talking with those whom we agree. We, actually, are better when we seek out, spend time with, and befriend those not like us.

My neighbor of some 15 years voted for the other guy in every election that I’ve known him. His views and values differ from mine. He reads and gets his input from different sources than I do. We don’t shy away from those areas of disagreement, nor do they define our relationship. I consider John one of my very best friends. We run together. We watch each other’s dogs when they are out of town. We share meals together. His friendship is most important to me.

But that hasn’t always been the case. I made some mistakes years ago in thinking I could change his mind and have him see things my way. But I had to learn not to focus on the differences but on those things that bind us together. Family is incredibly important to him. John and his wife are great parents. They take pride in our neighborhood and are respectful of others. They attend a different church and have involved themselves in mission and community development.

All that to say, the differences have sharpened and expanded each of us, but don’t define our friendship.

The ability to befriend those who think differently is not all that is at stake. It’s also how we actually discuss those differences that will either deepen a friendship or lead to one fractured. Listening without responding, hearing the position and the heart behind it without being defensive, and acknowledging the unspoken feelings and perceptions without posturing are all critical to building the relationship.

We naturally want to win. And by the time we arrive at a place of leadership, we’ve usually been right a good part of the time. But in my reading the Gospels, I find that Jesus usually answers a question with a question; and especially, the challenging ones.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer wishing to test Jesus about how to inherit eternal life was answered with a question. He gave the right answer and Jesus commended him for it. But the lawyer seeking to justify himself asked another, and that’s when he told this now familiar parable. Jesus ends with another question, which one was his neighbor? Then finally our Lord says, “Go and do likewise.”

I’m struck by what Jesus did not do. He didn’t argue. He didn’t “one up” or blister him with a zinger. He wasn’t cutting or defensive.

How do others receive us? Do we have an edge? Do we need to be right? Can we be charitable with those whom we differ? Do we immerse ourselves in groupthink? Are we afraid of being tainted, or losing control?

At the same time we don’t roll over and play dead. Being confident with our own thoughts and actions while comfortably engaging with those who live and believe differently is a habit of an effective leader.

Spring Coaching Tips

Acclimatization.

I passed a car today with a bumper stick that read, “It’s not all so ‘bumper sticker slogan’ simple.”

That’s true in politics, business, the Christian life, and, even re-organizational design.

I’m reading the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, detailing the 1996 expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest and the tragedy on the descent.

The month-long process of “acclimatization”, adjusting physiologically to the rarified atmosphere of high altitudes, was far from a straight line up the summit.

Krakauer was asked by the editor of Outside magazine to join an expedition to Mt. Everest, elevation 29,028 feet, and then to write an article about its commercialization. Having never ascended above 17,200 feet, he spent a year in preparation before joining the team in India in late March 1996 who would then take him to the summit.

They arrived at the 17,600 foot high Base Camp on April 12. At that altitude, the oxygen level is 50% of that at sea level. At the summit, it decreases to 1/3 of that at sea level. While the human body will adjust, it can take weeks to acclimatize. To do so they would need to reach various camps spaced about 2000 feet vertically up the mountain.

Krakauer’s expedition ascended and descended to these camps with varying rates and duration:

  • Base Camp to Camp 1, and then back to Base Camp.
  • Base Camp to Camps 1 and 2, then back to 1 and Base Camp.
  • Base Camp to Camps 1, 2, and 3, then back to 2, 1, and Base.

After a series of attempts and days of rest and recovery from different altitude complications, Krakauer reached the summit on May 10, more than a month after arriving at the Base Camp. He only remained at the top of the world for 5 minutes; hardly time to bask in his achievement.

In Romans 8:12-17, the Apostle Paul says, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” NIV

Different tenses indicate past facts, present realities, and future outcomes in that passage. Past events such as Christ’s work on our behalf and our response of faith, make a difference in how we live today. And these present realities in our life of faith determine a future character and destiny. They are interconnected.

While time is linear, our walk of faith is not. We take steps forward and back, forward again two steps, then back. Sometimes we experience great strides, but other times it’s really tough slogging. There are moments of clarity, as well as dark perplexity. And we pray for times of rest and recovery along the way. But in all of that, growth is happening, “acclimatization”, if you will, is taking place, and Jesus is becoming both the object of our affection and our source of satisfaction if we take His yoke upon us.

There is joy in the journey. Do we believe that? What we are experiencing in our ministry today has required our own spiritual acclimatization. Only as we submit to His lordship and “keep seeking the things above” (Colossians 3:1) are we able to take higher ground.

And finally, from “The Valley of Vision”, a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions, the one entitled “Openness” reads,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

 

Another use for an effective tool.

I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get in a rut with how I do ministry. I usually see our tools having a single purpose for which they were designed.

Recently, my wife, Chris, was on a coaching call. Rachel graduated three years ago and is seeking to live missionally in her workplace and neighborhood. Rachel leads a study of middle school Christian girls. But their behavior doesn’t always match their profession. Rachel knew they needed to understand the filling the Holy Spirit, but struggled to bring the message home to them.

Now, Chris is very creative. She is great at seeing possibilities where none appear to exist. (Oh, and BTW, I am not trying to earn brownie points here! Just telling it like it is.) Chris suggested taking the Soularium cards and asking the questions we would ask in an evangelistic setting. “What cards best illustrate your life now?” “Why?” “Which cards do you wish would illustrate your life?” “Why?” And from that discussion launch into what God would do with lives completely yielded to Him so that He could work unhindered in them, or what we would commonly say as being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

When Chris told me about her conversation, she said she knew most of us look at Soularium as an evangelism tool primarily. But sometimes we can be limiting and not see a tools’ versatility. What might God do outside the box?

Perhaps you have discovered a creative way to use one of our tools and have seen God use it. I’d love to hear about it.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

 

All good things start (again) with Jesus.

I was given True North: Christ, the Gospel, and Creation Care by Mark Liederbach and Seth Bible for Christmas. With several friends passionate about creation care and the environment, I dove into it. It has been a very engaging read…but not for the reasons you might think.

The authors set out to show why Christians could actually have a better ethic for calling all of creation back to its original purpose of glorifying God because we ourselves have been brought back into a right relationship with our Creator.

Much of the book establishes that humankind was created to glorify God, has fallen (not just spiritually, but in every way), that Jesus Christ is Lord and Redeemer, and has imparted to us new life and new purposes. It’s good theology.

“In Rom 8:1-17, Paul stresses that through his redeeming and atoning work, Christ broke the power of sin and death. Therefore, for those who are in Christ ‘the era of bondage to sin has ceased’ [from Thomas Schreiner, “Romans”, 430]. In addition, Paul tells us that those who are redeemed by Christ also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells them and gives them life and strength (Rom 8:9,13). It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that believers are no longer bound to follow after the sin nature they inherited from Adam. Instead…they are also free from the domination of inherent sinful life patterns and choices. Indeed, Rom 8:15 tells us that because of the work of Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness to us that we are now “adopted” as sons of God into the lineage of Christ, the Second Adam. All these truths… establish the baseline by which believers can now be restored into the intended purpose for which they were created…[In] and through these redeemed image bearers, the rest of creation can be called back to its created purpose and be rightly ordered or “reconciled” to God (Col 1:20).” Pp. 100-103.

While Liederbach and Bible are making a case for creation care, these truths easily extend to

  • redeeming our relationships in every sphere (in our family, with our neighbors and co-workers, and even those with whom we disagree),
  • social justice,
  • care for the unborn and those who unable to care for themselves,
  • the creative arts,
  • our political involvement, etc.

“Put another way, human beings are most fully human when they are both rightly aligned with the reason for which they were created and when they are rightly fulfilling the task for which they have been created…when they personally glorify God and seek to have the entire created order give maximum praise and honor to God.” P. 104.

In the main, the authors are calling us to evangelism and discipleship. “As God gave a great commission in Gen 1:28 to fill the earth with image bearers and subdue and rule the earth in such a way that it would bring maximum glory to him, so also does he now give a great commission to all believers to ‘Go’ and ‘make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’ (Matt 28:18-20). The task is the same: fill the earth with worshippers who will maximize the glory of God in their environment—all the earth!” P. 104.

You will encounter students as you minister who are passionate about a great many things. That passion will only find it’s proper focus when oriented toward Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

In this new year, I want to help us all “fill the earth with ‘image bearers’ ”. I hope to pass along tips that will make ministry easier, extend our reach, and as a result engage more students and faculty. Look for one next week about involving a whole staff team in launching a new campus ministry.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips