Category Archives: Trusting God

Filling possible leadership holes.

A lot of us are thinking about next year’s leadership.  Graduation may be leaving leadership holes and it might be difficult seeing others stepping up in some of the movements we lead. This may be even more acute on community colleges or where turnover is accelerated.

Here are a few ideas for addressing some of those leadership holes.

  1. If you have a faculty advisor or volunteers involved, see if they might step up. There is a dance that we do with the “long-term indigenous volunteer.” When student leadership is strong, it’s important that they step back to let those students lead. But when student leadership is weak, that’s a great time to have them step up. But help the volunteer think of creative way to give specific responsibilities to others.
  2. Local churches also offer huge potential for leadership. Jeff Grant, Church Partnership Specialist, has seen some churches and Cru work together in a whole range of partnerships. Jeff recently posted a video about a long time partnership with a church that kept ministering to students after the staff at Northern Oklahoma College moved on.
  3. You may also want to talk with former leaders to come up with key churches to visit in order to invite incoming freshmen. Hopefully, some of those first-year students will step into leadership. This might also be a way to find others with a heart for the campus to do some of the more behind the scenes things like fund raising, refreshments at meetings, or sponsorship of events.
  4. To give students a chance to develop in leadership experience over the summer, encourage them to try some Group Talks. These are an excellent way to help give confidence to those quiet and hesitant ones, at least in a small way, to exercise leadership.
  5. Finally, consider taking time in each meeting to pray for leaders to be raised up and for many new students to get involved next year. Here is a great story on how God answered similar prayers.

So while you may not have the natural hand off to the next leader, let’s trust God to work in new and exciting ways. Because, after all, He is more concerned about every student on that campus that we ever will be.

Previous Coaching Tips

Advertisements

Believing that God is already at work.

Put today’s tip in the category of “Do it again, Lord!”

I’m writing this after three days at the Hawaiian Island Ministries conference. Several of us, representing Cru’s high school and college ministries, were here at this largest annual Christian gathering in Hawaii to see if we could connect with what God is already doing and possibly see new ministries start. Kent Matsui, our team leader at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, is particularly eager to see high school ministries start.

Scores of people, pastors, teachers, parents, and students expressed interest. And we will have a bunch to follow up.

One of those, Landon, came up to our booth. He stopped by earlier when no one was around, but was glad to see us. He thought we each could help the other and told us his story.

At 13, Landon started attending church on his own. He placed his faith in Christ and began to grow. One day his dad sat him down to say that his parents were getting a divorce. But he had noticed something different in Landon and thought it might be because he was going to church. So he decided to take the whole family to church. A different one. Landon followed.

One day he heard his pastor share a message about each person’s calling in life, and that’s when he felt God speak directly to him. “The person who will be leading the next generation of believers,” the pastor said, “won’t be a 20 year old or 30 year old man, but a 13 year old boy sitting in here today.”  Amongst the 500 plus attendees that day, Landon knew, with all of his heart, that this message was for him.

He started attending leadership classes in his church, and learned how to write sermons, lead small groups, and coordinate events. He was the only boy in a class of adults. Now equipped and inspired, he took the first steps toward his calling.

He posted a Bible study sign up sheet on the bulletin board of his school. The next day he came back to fine the sheet  filled front and back with names of the interested. As a middle school-er, he started a ministry that grew to over 100 kids.

Today at 20, he is a business major in a Christian university, and leads four high school ministries and one on a community college. Now we don’t want to change what Landon is doing. But we talked about ways we could begin to partner together.

Kaitlyn, a sixth grader, walked up to our booth with the bearing of a tenth grader. She told how she is leading a Bible study with other home schooled kids and wants to expand. She was looking for resources and, currently, is writing a devotion for home-school moms and daughters. We all were amazed at the vision of this 12 year old girl and her personal maturity beyond those years.

So yes, “Do it again, Lord!” or maybe I should say “Lord, expand my categories of what You want to do!”

Hawaii has cultural and historical distinctiveness that make ministry here unique from many places. Our team came in as learners and God blessed us with the realization that He is working in profound ways outside our categories.

This week:

  • What have you seen recently in which you are saying “Do it again, Lord!”?
  • Are there ways you might be putting God in a box?
  • What are some ways you would like to trust Him for people and communities you aren’t currently reaching?

Previous Coaching Tips

A Launch Trip Offers Team Benefits.

For the last two weeks, I’ve talked about using the Key Volunteer Challenge. It was the primary tool teams used in different cities during the launch weeks to identify potential leaders to begin new movements. And Eric Hiett shared how it was their lead step as they visit campuses.

Then, I shared some insights Alana Schmidt, new staff participating in a launch week, had about the value of using the KV Challenge with current student leaders so that staff and leaders are all believing God for the same things.

Let me wrap up this series by offering some team benefits. The Florida State staff team spent three days last Spring away from campus and at Valdosta State with the intention of launching a movement there. I asked team leader and my son, Rick Kingsley, what he thought the benefits were of that trip.

First, it was a team bonding time. They all stayed in the same hotel, they ate meals together, and they got to hang out during down time. Even an event that didn’t pan out the way they wanted turned into time of tossing the Frisbee around. That kind of time is impossible to get during the normal schedule of ministry on location.

Second, there were training benefits. Using the Key Volunteer Challenge to surface potential leaders, meeting with leaders and faculty, taking the initiative, etc. gave the team a different type of ministry environment and focus.

Finally, Rick told me that what this did to increase their vision made the launch trip worthwhile. Seeing God do some really big things at Valdosta caused the team to go back to FSU encouraged to trust Him for similar things.

In the coming weeks you will be evaluating your fall ministry and looking ahead to the spring. Let me encourage you to consider planning a launch trip away to a campus where we currently don’t have one. Here are some helpful hints before, during, and after a visit to a campus if you do.

Fall Coaching Tips

Launch Week Side Benefits

Last week, I mentioned that teams of Cru staff have been visiting new campuses for the purpose of finding potential key volunteers. Six teams visited five different cities in two weeks. Every team in Florida had staff go to Miami for a second launch week, including four new staff and interns from Florida State.

My wife and I just happen to be in Tallahassee this weekend visiting our eldest son, Rick, and his family. We also happened to meet Alana Schmidt, one of those who went to Miami. She told me a little about her experience.

Alana is new staff, and just reported to campus. Ironically she spent her first week post-MPD in Miami. She pointed out to me that the Key Volunteer Challenge training emphasizes how God was already at work before we ever talk with students. She went on to say that it was a really good reminder that we are in partnership with Him, and that He continues to be at work. Because Alana had been an intern before, she experienced how easily that in the middle of ministry week after week we can forget that God is at work.

One of Alana’s takeaways is to go through the challenge with current student leaders. Her launch week experience convinced her of the importance of working with the right people, those with the right heart. The challenge helps to have conversations about what we are trusting God for together and to articulate and expand the vision of those we work with.

Finally, Alana mentioned that there are other campuses nearby. The KV Challenge could help identify student leaders on those campuses with a heart to reach their own campus. While she didn’t mention circle campuses, she did say that they would certainly need to lead efforts differently.

You can find videos of the KV Challenge, the description of Three-Thirds and more on the videos page of Expedition Teams page on Facebook.

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

Andy Stanley’s Looking for the Uniquely Better

Welcome to another year of Coaching Tips. While this is a transition year for those of us in the US campus ministry, may we see God work in new and unexpected ways.

Last week, one of the teams I’m on attended Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit. We found that many of the talks applied directly to our situation. I personally walked away with enough fodder for months of coaching tips.

Andy Stanley, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries in Atlanta, mentioned that some time ago, their organization had done some analysis of their success in ministry over the last 20 years. He included the five things that they would do all over again in two podcasts entitled “Lessons from the First 20 Years.” They are, in no particular order,

  • Have a uniquely better product.
  • Maintain a culture of continual improvement.
  • Power of a clear vision and mission.
  • The value of a learning organization.
  • The people we chose is more important than the system we use.

It’s that first one on being “uniquely better” that Stanley unpacked for us Thursday. I want to pass on his most salient points and then share some of my own takeaways as we begin a new year in a new leadership environment.

North Point sought to create an engaging church experience for the family and especially for men. Today, lots of churches are doing the very things they did “uniquely better” than others when they grew so quickly. But, while it is virtually impossible today to discover that which is uniquely better, someone, somewhere is messing with the rules of the prevailing models.

Will we recognize the uniquely better ideas when they surface? Our best hope is to create organizational structures that recognize the better when surfaced. Stanley listed four ways to create a culture that recognizes the better.

1. Be a student, not a critic. Don’t criticize that which we don’t understand or can control. The moment we start criticizing, we stop learning and stop seeing the next. The next generation idea almost never comes from the previous generation.

2. Keep eyes and mind wide open. Listen to outsiders. Listen to those who don’t know what we do or how we do it. Outsiders are not bound by our assumptions. We go with “That won’t work.” because of our assumptions. Close-minded leaders close minds. If you shut eyes and minds you will shut those of others. If they have ideas they won’t bring them to us.

Some questions he asked us to consider:

  • How do we respond to staff who make suggestions based on what they observe in other organizations?
  • Can we shut down the thing inside that wants to shut down the ideas?
  • When was the last time we ran with an idea that wasn’t my idea?
  • Am I curious about what I don’t know?

3. Replace “How?” with “Wow!” Ideas die with “How?” How much does it cost to just say “Wow!”? “Wow!” ideas to life, don’t “How?” them to death. Nothing is gained when we don’t know what young leaders are dreaming about.

4. Recognize rather than resist. If we are pursuing the uniquely better, we will be pre-disposed to see it. Ask if it is unique and better.

In reflecting about this afterward, I realized that some of this is counter-intuitive to the way I think. As an ISTJ, with strengths of analytical and deliberative, I focus on the “how” and am reticent to “wow”. I do seek to position the next generation of leader, and I don’t need to be the one who comes up with the new ideas. Our team has a habit of reading a book each semester giving us new insight and different assumptions.

And while I love to read, I am quick to run ideas through my own grid. I think that is typical of many Cru staff. We are good at our ministry. But we forget that past success is no indication of future success.

In this season of our ministry may we have open minds, open hearts, and open hands to receive from the Lord what He would do in and through us.

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