Things that make you grow up…

I’ve often heard it said some people “never grow up”. It is said in a humorous way. My wife may say that about me at times. But, many times it is said in a not so funny way, usually speaking of a person’s continued immaturity.

I have another thought. Maybe for some people it is that they have never had an experience that instills maturity in them. It’s possible.

I’ve personally experienced and observed that there are some circumstances in life that bring more automatic maturity…a sort of forced growing up mentality.

Here are 7 things I’ve seen force someone to grow up quickly:

Failure

A first child

Sudden authority

Tragedy

Losing a parent

Having to make it on your own

Betrayal

You can mature naturally. You can grow up over time. But, in my experience, you grow up faster when life experience grows you up. You don’t have to grow in these experiences. Some don’t. You either own up to the challenge, or you don’t. But, when you do, you grow up faster. At least, that’s been my observation.

(By the way, that’s why I believe in giving young leaders experience where they can grow. You can read a post about that HERE.)

Have you ever been forced into a new season of maturity? What caused you to suddenly “grow up”?

What would you add to my list?

A life principle my daddy taught me…

It is what it is…

My father was probably the most bottom line guy I know. One of his most quotable lines was “The main thing is don’t get excited.” If anyone was ever tempted to stress about an issue he would interject that often repeated line.

Occasionally, I remember him adding another sentence into stressful moments. He would say, “It is what it is…”.

In other words, you can’t change it now. That’s a fact, Jack.

Admitting that “it is what it is” allows you to quit complaining and actually do something about it.

Do you need to admit:

Your marriage is in trouble…

You have a spending problem…

You’ve let your weight get out of control…

You’ve been a lousy friend…

Your relationship with God is struggling…

You are surrounding yourself with bad influencers…

You are in over your head…

(Insert yours here)

It is what it is…

Now that you’ve admitted IT

What are you going to do about it?

Draw a Line in the Sand (Or on the Wall)

Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand…

Or on the wall…or in your mind.

I’ve worked with many people who can’t seem to move forward, because of a past failure or disappointment.

It could be a marriage damaged by an affair. The injured spouse is not sure she (or he) can ever trust again. After counseling, time to heal, and repentance on the part of the offender, the injured spouse simply can’t seem to forgive and move forward to build the marriage again.

It could be after a personal failure. The person feels they will never recover, so they refuse to take another risk. They remain miserable, but they can’t seem to pull themselves out of the emotional hold they’ve placed on their life. They may not be able to internalize the truth of God’s grace in their life.

It could be after a financial loss. The person can’t see that life will be any better than it is right now, so they refuse to invest or dream again.

Whatever the reason…and I’ve seen many…life has a way of sucking the passion to move forward out of us at times.

In circumstances like these (and many others), one mental “exercise” I’ve done is to draw a mental line indicating a starting over point. I’ve even drawn it on a board for people, such as the picture above. There’s nothing “magical” about this practice. It’s simply an opportunity to remind yourself of the truth that you can “forget what is behind and press forward”. (Philippians 3:13) You can begin again. You can make better choices. You can get up (again) and take another risk on life. You can do it today!

Get out a piece of paper, if it’s serious enough, draw it on the wall of your house, but maybe just a mental picture…then sign and dated it…Yesterday was then, today is today, and tomorrow is tomorrow. Move forward from this point with the rest of your life.

Do you need to draw a line?

Wherever you draw the line, draw it today!

How to Have a Healthy Children’s Ministry?

This is a guest post by Greg Baird. Greg is founder of KidMin360. help churches build great children’s & family ministry. His passion is to assist children’s & family leaders to serve kids, parents, volunteers, staff & other leaders to their full capacity. Greg’s experience is gained over 20 years as a children’s pastor.

Here is Greg’s post:

How To Have A Healthy Children’s Ministry

Effective Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church. It impacts the church in all directions. Virtually everyone in the church is linked to Children’s Ministry in some way or another. Parents often judge their commitment (and attendance!) to the church based on whether their kids like the Children’s Ministry. And, of course, we all know the spiritual impact that can be made in the lives of children.

So how do we create healthy Children’s Ministry? Every church is different, every ministry unique, and it takes far more than a blog post to answer that question. However, here’s the framework of a model that I’ve found applies to each environment I’ve ever associated with over the past 25 years:

1. Establish a strong foundation. Focus on:

  • Vision that is effectively aligned with the overall vision of the church.
  • A commitment to strong leadership, not just functional administration.

2. Evaluate as a matter of habit. Focus on:

  • Systems, structures & processes that empower leaders.
  • Creating avenues of communication between staff & within Children’s Ministry.

3. Embrace spiritual formation. Focus on: 

  • Creating a purposeful plan beginning at birth.
  • The centrality of the Gospel in all teaching.

4. Equip others to do the work of the ministry. Focus on:

  • Equipping parents to disciple their own children.
  • Developing leaders (not just followers) to assume responsibility for ministry.

5. Engage children for life change. Focus on:

  • Environments that capture their imagination.
  • Methods that capture their heart.

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Children’s Ministry is the single most complex department in the church. No other ministry reaches or involves so many individuals or impacts so many other departments, targets such a broad audience developmentally, requires such intense oversight, or is liable for so many risks.

But no other ministry can spiritually impact at any deeper level than children’s ministry. The spiritual outlook of a person is formed in the early years, and studies show that 85% of those who accept Christ will do so between the ages of 4 & 14.

A healthy Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church.

What would you add for creating healthy Children’s Ministry?

For more help with children’s ministry, in the areas of staffing, coaching, training, development or resources, check out the KidMin360.

Two Words of Wisdom that will Change Your Life

Be Purposeful.

In parenting.

In marriage.

In forgiveness.

In ministry.

In your relationship with God.

In your career.

In your social media activity.

In your education.

In your financial life.

In your life planning.

In relationship building.

In leadership.

The “secret” that separates many from succeeding or failing is the degree in which they were purposeful in attaining what they hope to achieve.

Not getting the success you’re looking for these day? What’s the secret?

Be purposeful.

Try it.

In what area of your life do you need to be more purposeful?

7 Things I’ll Miss About Clarksville, Tennessee

I’ve lived in Clarksville, Tennessee all my life. So has Cheryl. I know that’s unusual at our age. Most people we know, especially in a military town have moved multiple times by now. It’s surprising to me too, because I never thought I’d stay past college. In fact, I went away when I started college, only to return and finish at our hometown Austin Peay State University.

Well, as much as I love my city, I’m moving.

If you haven’t heard, I’m in a ministry transition. I’ll be sharing more about that in the days to come, but we said goodbye this week. We have a few weeks of transition time, but for all practical purposes, our time here is done. We leave today for vacation and then we are basically just in and out for moving purposes.

There are some things I’m going to especially miss. (Every time I say that people remind me what Lexington has to offer. I understand that and we are excited about the new. You can be excited about new and still sad about the what you’re leaving.)

Here are 7 things I’ll miss about Clarksville:

Family – Being from here means we have lots of extended family here. Our family trees are both wide in this area. Our son and daughter-in-law are close by. Both our mothers are still here and we each have brothers and sisters in the area. We love them. We’ll miss seeing them whenever we want.

Friends – Our best friends live in Clarksville. Having been active in the community, serving in elected office, and pastoring a large church, I know lots of people. We will miss seeing so many friendly faces we already know and love.

Grace – Grace has been a miracle the last 7 years. God has brought so many wonderful people into our lives through this church. The staff are some of our best friends. We will miss worshipping, fellowshipping and serving with them.

Fort Campbell – Growing up in a military town is one of the greatest blessings in life. I’m patriotic, because I’ve lived among modern-day heroes. The soldiers and families here are dedicated, hard-working, and sacrificial. We will miss seeing all the uniforms and bumping into soldiers in restaurants and in the stores. Hooah!

First Baptist Church – My home church is where I was saved, discipled, and sent out for vocational ministry. My family still attends there. I’ll miss driving or running by and the good people I’ve known all my life. Many of my closest mentors are still in that church.

Downtown living – We’ve only done so for a year and a half, but we’ve loved every minute of it. Thankfully, we are planning to move to a fun walking area in Lexington, but we’ll miss the river walk, the downtown festivals and the art walks of Clarksville.

Austin Peay – We are both graduates and have supported the university and been friends with administrators, professors and students. Cheryl and I eat frequently on campus, I work out at the school’s fitness center, and I run through the campus almost everyday. We’ll miss the university that’s educated us and many in our family.

That’s just a start. I know it’s a short list but it represents so much more…so many faces…so many memories. Good times. (Mostly). We’ve invested much of our heart and lives here. We are going to miss you.

Goodbye Clarksville. We love you.

Just curious, what’s the longest you’ve lived in one city? Also how many different cities have some of you lived in?

Waiting for Daddy!

Kid and time, concept

When our two boys were in elementary school, and actually wanted us to, Cheryl and I tried to go to lunch with them once a week, unless we were traveling for business. They loved it because there was a special seating section for visiting parents, and usually we brought them lunch. (I think that was the real attraction. 🙂 )

Nathaniel was probably in about first or second grade. He was less the socialite of our son Jeremy so he always looked forward to me coming each week. These were some of our favorite hangout times.

On one particularly busy week, it was Friday and I still hadn’t gone to lunch with him. It was an exceptionally busy morning also and I got distracted from the time. When I realized how late it was, it was questionable if I could get there in time for lunch. I knew Nathaniel would be disappointed if I didn’t show up, so I left quickly for the school as fast as I could.

When I got to the school, I went straight to the cafeteria, as it was midway into his lunch period. To my surprise, Nathaniel wasn’t with the rest of his class. I went to his room and found his teacher. She told me Nathaniel was in the office. He was waiting for me.

Nathaniel had refused to go to lunch with his class. (He could be quite stubborn at times.) Nathaniel insisted to his teacher, “I know my daddy is coming today. He hasn’t been yet this week.”

He had that much confidence in his father.

I have thought about that story many times through the years. It’s been a consistent reminder to be the best father I can be and to never lose the respect or confidence of my sons.

It also had a spiritual implication for me.

If only I always had that much confidence in my Heavenly Father.

He is the perfect father. Always. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He’s promised to work all things for my eventual good. He’s committed to counting the hairs on my head. I can surely trust Him. My Heavenly Daddy will come.

Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:4

Are you waiting for God?

Keep waiting.

Your father will arrive. You can trust Him!

When They No Longer Need You (And 4 ways to prepare)

It’s one of the hardest things to do, but…

One day, if you’ve done your job well…

It will be time to get out of the way and let them grow.

It hurts…

Just being honest.

A part of you wants them to need you forever.

It could be as a parent…

Or as a leader…

Or as a pastor…

They may still “need you”…but not like they once did. They’ve grown. They’ve changed. You’ve changed. Things aren’t the same. You did your job. Now it’s their turn. That’s what disciple-making is all about. Raising up new disciple-makers.

When they are ready to fly solo…

Release them to God’s care…

Here are 4 things you can do to prepare them for the release:

Let them know – Assure them they have what it takes to do all God calls them to do.

Let them grow – Give them ample opportunities to learn new things along the way; whether from you or from others.

Let them sow – Allow them freedom to exhibit their talents and abilities under your guidance.

Let them go – Again, it’s the hardest part, but when it’s time release them. You’ve done your job.

Good job disciple-maker.

It won’t be easy. You’ll have to discipline yourself, but…

It’s the right thing to do.

It’s a quality all great leaders, parents, pastors…have in common. It’s part of doing our job well.

Have you had to let go?

Was it difficult for you?

Leadership and Life Advice from My Mom

I previously posted this story under another title, but since it’s been 4 years, I thought I was expand it and share again.

Recently I received some great life and leadership advice from my mom.

Please understand, my mom is retired from over 40 years of work in the business world, but she is usually not the first person I would think of for business advice. I mean, she is smart, no doubt about that, but she is my mom.

I would read Truett Cathy or Warren Buffett for business advice. I look to John Maxwell (and others) for leadership advice. I have a plethora of people I go to for life mentoring. I go to my mom when I cannot find my recipe for cornbread. (She makes some killer cornbread by the way.)

Before you write me…I know, my mom is a great place to get life advice. I’m trying to be funny and make a point. (I wish I didn’t have to give so many disclaimers 🙂 )

Anyway, a friend is a salesperson for a manufacturing company. He has been concerned he might lose his job because his sales aren’t meeting expectations of management. My mom shared with me what she has been telling him. He claims that he could sell more product, if the production people could produce his orders faster. He says sales are not the problem, a lack of production is keeping the company from moving forward, and other orders seem to be produced before his orders, which is hindering his ability to meet his quota.

My mom told him he may need to leave his comfortable desk and chair, shut his laptop for a while, show an interest in the production people, and, if necessary, learn to help make the product. Her quote, “You need to make yourself indispensable to the company right now, because desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Make yourself indispensable.

You know, my mom is right. Too many times when our organization is suffering we cast blame rather than rally the team. We throw in the towel rather than work for a solution. We give up rather than create energy around us.

It is easier to quit sometimes than to weather through the rough periods, but the greatest and sweetest victories come to those who stick it out through the hard times and make it to the other side.

My mom was basically saying:

Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do so you can get done what has to be done.

I know…that’s deep right? And, I’m not as eloquent of speech as my mom. But it’s true. Sometimes it’s necessary to do the uncomfortable, the thing you don’t really want to do, maybe even the thing you don’t feel qualified to do…if you want to be successful. I frequently talk with people who are struggling in their personal life…either vocationally, in their relationships, or even physically. They want things to improve, but they aren’t willing to do the hard things to get them where they ultimately want to be.

Are you discovering tough times? Are you struggling to get where you want to be? Learn a lesson from my mom.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

What is some life advice you got from your mom?