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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Monday, January 12, 2015

Youth Ministry: Leading Leaders

leader |ˈlēdərnounthe person who leads or commands a group, organization, etc
I like being around leaders.  I often see Leaders as such:Leaders tend to be the people who desire to see somethingdone. They have a voice (both loud & quiet) that peoplelisten to. Leaders create action and encourage others tofollow. Leaders are people that can tend to have strongopinions and in general have strong work ethics. Leadersare people that do not sit back idly, but tend to leanforward to help fix problems. I like being around leaders. A wonderful privilege I've had isbeing able to also lead leaders. Whether it's been as a staffperson, intern or a key volunteer I've had leaders aroundme. I love it. I enjoy the energy, conversations, convictions &drive they have.  
So how can a leader lead leaders?
Here are just a few things I've learned that are needed to lead other leaders:1- Vision Leaders, even if they are following another leader, want vision.  They want direction.  They want to be able to know where their energies are being pointed and how to focus their energies.  Leaders want and need a vision to stand behind and upon because it allows them to feel they are a part of something bigger than them.  Leaders desire to see dynamic and life changing opportunities come their way.  A solid vision, allows them to be a part of those moments. 
2- CommunicationLeaders need to know what is going on.  They want to know all the details and whose responsible for various aspects.  I have experienced that leaders need to know the details because it allows them to communicate better with their teams or circle of influences.  I also have experienced that this is an area where leaders can be easily frustrated.  When there is lack of communication and unclear communication leaders will get frustrated.  Be sure to communicate & over communicate so there are no unspoken assumptions or expectations your team is unaware of.
3- BoundariesWhen leaders are leading leaders boundaries are needed.  Leaders can tend to step on one another toes unless they are given some boundaries.  Boundaries are not to handcuff people, but boundaries are to help people know exactly where they can fully engage themselves.  Boundaries allow organizations & departments to operate effectively.  Boundaries are areas for communication, vision and also evaluation.  Boundaries allow people to know exactly what is & is not expected of them.
4- TrustLeaders want to lead and act.  As a key leader you have to show trust, confidence & belief in the leaders around you. If you communicate, set boundaries, cast vision and want leaders to lead you have to trust them when you release them.  Trust is easily lost and easily gained with the respective actions.  When you have a leader who leads well be sure to affirm them.  When you have a leader that gets off track communicate with them as quickly and appropriately as possible.  

This list could be a lot longer and there are a large amount ofresources available to read up on how to lead well.  Iencourage you to invest in resources by Patrick Lencioni,Andy Stanley, Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell.Andy Stanley has an INCREDIBLE podcast forleaders that I highly recommend everyone to subscribe to

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Four Hard Questions to Ask Yourself

It's a New Year with new opportunities.  New opportunities that we create and new opportunities that will come our way.  But with those opportunities come challenges, hurdles, conversations & change that has to be navigated.
I have a list of questions (about 30) that I look at often throughout the course of a year to help me process life, spirituality, marriage, parenting & leadership.  Here are four that I tend to always ask myself.

1--Why Am I Doing What I am Doing?
What is my motivation for doing what I am doing as a husband, father & leader?

2--When I say "Yes" to a New Opportunity, What am I saying "No" to that I am Already Doing?
I cannot do all things at all times.  I have to create boundaries in my life so I do not over commitment and underperform.

3--What Impact Does This Have on the Health of my Entire Life?
My soul, my healthy, my family, my relationships and my own sanity can all be impacted by things I make commitments to.  Can I keep life healthy for everyone if a new opportunity comes along?  

4--What Blind Spots do I Have Going On?
There is no such thing as a perfect leader and all aspects of my life are open to imperfections.  Where do I need to give more energy to make sure a blind spot doesn't turn into a harmful or destructive aspect of my life?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Imitation Kills Innovation

Imitation tends to kill innovation.  Being a copy cat takes less energy than allowing the space & time to create with originality.

Unique. Original. Creative. One of a kind. 
Often we applaud these words and adjectives.  Even if we can’t afford the price tag on these items we still highlight them.
But not all of us are artists, wood workers or able to run a DIY website.  But what makes PINTEREST & DIY websites successful is it gives people an idea of what they are capable of doing with some instruction & inspiration.  Some people need just a little kick of confidence to tackle a creative project.

Originality allows people, organizations, ministries, sports teams & families to thrive instead of just exist.

People need to know that there energies are not just about “how things have always just been done”.  People need to know that who they are adds to what they are a part of in a unique way.  
People...I hope you do know that your own energies and creativity are worth testing and trying out.


When it comes to leadership if we are always just copying and never taking the time to be innovative than we really aren’t leading, we are just managing other peoples visions.

I'd rather lead and create than copy and manage some else's creativity.


Monday, January 05, 2015

Student Ministry is Worth It

On days where being a Pastor feel tough, challenging or that all your energies are not worth it crazy things happen in your world. You get random texts, emails and messages that Jesus uses to remind you that it isn't about "your efforts" but you reflecting the Kingdom of Jesus in all things. It isn't about the message you crafted but the message your life speaks through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I got this message today through Facebook today:

Hey Danny I know we haven't talked in a while but I just wanted to thank you for being my role model. When I am grown u r the man I want to b like bc u embody what it means to b a godly man walking with Christ. If there is 1 person on earth I want my kids to b like it is u. Love you bro keep living like Jesus

Youth Workers...stay the course. It's worth it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Hours in a Deer Stand

Wednesday I got an invite to go with some friends deer hunting & man I couldn't wait.  It's been a 7 years since I've gotten a chance to go deer hunting and I was anxious like a kid on Christmas Eve at this opportunity.

One of our adult mentors in our student ministry his family owns land that has been worked to be VERY viable habitat for conservation.  They've plotted their stands intentionally and to be honest put in a GREAT spot!  The weather was a solid 28 degrees with 15mph winds out of the south.

We hiked in at 5am, got set into our stands by 545-6am and did what all hunters do...waited. Now I did go through my mental checklist to be sure I had everything in place for that 1 moment of action, but while waiting I did the easiest thing I could think of doing, praying.

For 5 hours I was uninterrupted, alone, focussed & had nothing else to do that would distract me.  I prayed for my wife, kids, ministry I'm leading, extended family, myself, my boss, my new co-workers, my sons' future wives, my friends on the other end of the farm hunting that day....I can't tell you how refreshing that was.  I even asked myself, "When was the last time I put myself in a position to be that focussed and have that much opportunity to just sit & pray with Jesus?"
Answer: it's been a while.

Ministry Leaders, lets face it.  We skimp to often on the necessities.  We skimp on the intentional focussed times of prayer, reading & mediation.  Leaders like action & results and all of those things are not results based activities.  They are character shaping moments.  They all compile into long term transformation but not immediate results.
Those 5 hours in that deer stand felt very fluid & am quite surprised it really even was that long.  I'm almost tempted to go sit in that stand again just to be able to pray with interruptions!

As far as hunting went, I did see one doe about 640 in the morning but wanted to sit on a buck.  I didn't see another deer until I was walking back to my truck and I spooked the buck before I could get a shot off.  I guess it'll be one more year before I get my deer.


 






Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Want an Invitation or Permission?

In the last few years the amount of digital invites to events I have received as well as posted is kinda overwhelming.  From a back yard BBQ, student ministry events, birthday parties, church functions, volunteer opportunities, weddings & doggie walk days.  It very easy to check my notifications or comments and check yes or no but I've also noticed how easily the statement of "oh yeah I scanned that but forgot" is for our culture.  For myself Notifications line up with the digital idea of vomit.  They basically just give you "permission" to be a part of things. 

Notifications come & go like breathing...but I would argue that they are as addictive and harmful as breathing in smoke. They can be thrown around so quickly & flippantly that they lose an actual invite to be a part of something significant.  It becomes noise into our lives.   A friend of mine, Adam McClane, posts some interesting thoughts on notifications here and I'd encourage you to read his post.  

Now when I receive a invitation in the mail or a personal invitation I remember it so much more.  I know for myself that the personal letter or personal invite makes me feel like I'm wanted.  I can belong.  I have a group of people I can join to share moments of life together with a certain amount of relational intimacy.

The contrary is being given permission.  The "sure you can do that" or "yes I will let you join us" type statements.  The type of statements where there is no real thought behind the invite and it is more in line with just being given permission to be a part of the background of everything.

Our kids want to be invited with us as parents to do life together.  They wanted invited into significant conversations and life events.  They want their voice valued & listened too in their own family unit.  
They don't want to feel that we just give them permission to be treated similarly to this statement "FINE! You can do this, but just do this one thing".  

Students also want an invitation.  Students want to be asked with relational connection to be a part of something bigger than them that could be great.  Students want to walk with you in life and create some amazing life moments together.  

The Gospel isn't about being given permission to accept God's Grace, it is an invitation to be a part of Christ's Kingdom.

These might just be my thoughts & I may be arguing semantics but I'd invite you to share your thoughts on that matter!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding a Life Pace in the Midst of "New"

In this transition our family has been processing a lot and in the processing we are learning what life looks like with change & lots of change.  And in those learnings we are developing a litmus test.  We are developing what we do & do not like.  We look for what lends itself to be more of our family rhythm and we've noticed that we're different.  Southern California living for 12 years & growing up in Colorado for 19 years definitely has shaped how we think, act, react, respond and desire to live.  

It's been enjoyable to have family conversations and hearing the differences the boys notice and as we talk as a family how all of us tend to notice similar patterns as well as point out certain items that others of us has missed.  We are learning & teaching each other together.

There are several times when we ask one another how a certain experience was the response has been "it was ok".  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  
A large part of that is the experiences are new to us and we are developing a new litmus test of what we enjoy and do not enjoy.  Many experiences we walk into and we are having to say out loud that we aren't expecting much.  We are just trying to adapt to our surroundings

We are keenly aware that where we live & making it more of a "home" takes a lot of hard work.  

And the same is true for leading a new ministry.  The evaluations, likes, dislikes, cultural nuances, ministry history, student behavior's and so much more are all new.  New can be exciting & exhilaration, scary, awkward, embarrassing....i think new can expose so many emotions that it's hard to even label them some days.  And it's hard to know how things are really going because your evaluation rulers are all over the place.

A constant we are trying to embrace is giving space for conversations, emotions & knowing we've got each others backs.  As a family, we are in this together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Missions Trip Done Right Part 2

For Missions Trip's Done Right there are a few key factors that I believe are needed but central to all of them is healthy communication.

During Trip be sure that COMMUNICATION is at an all time high.  Communication with your leaders, with your students, with the organization you are going with, with your means of transportation and with back home.   I want to make sure that What we are communicating is as important as How we are communicating it.

One way to communicate well is you can create a Daily Story.  Anymore with smartphones & the variety of apps available you can create a really unique collage of pictures, quotes & mini-videos that those following your team can get available updates.  It also gives you a way to give sound bites that can remind you later of stories that need to be shared with more detail via testimonies or recap opportunities your team will have once they are back home.
The great part is students LOVE doing this on their own so rotate your students through and ask them to create a DAILY STORY.  They are already doing this so use their energy & maximize your time efficiently.

I like host 24 Hour Meetings.  What I mean is that each Night I like to do a daily recap & a "here is what the next 24 hours will look like".  This give answers to students & leaders questions plus it gives you the ability to assign healthy changes & roles to your team as you encounter certain variables.  At these meetings I try to do 3 R's.  Recap, Remind & Refresh everyone.  Recap the day with the high's or the lows.  Remind everyone about the essentials they need whether it be guidelines, instructions or changes.  Refresh everyone with a key scripture, time of prayer or a cold Coke.  I can't tell you how many times a cold bottle of Coke makes a team enjoy the "24 Hour Meeting" with more presence.

There are always times where you will need to me with just your leaders.  These times are when I try to care for their needs, concerns, questions as well as affirm them.  This is where leadership helps one another gets through whatever difficulty or obstacle that could be in their way.  Often it's a quick 5 minute debrief or it is a late night time of sharing stories from their day.  
Take advantage of making sure they are cared for & prayed for as much as your students are....remember when you get back to the church you still want them to link arms with you on a weekly basis!

You've got to create an atmosphere of FUN.  Mission trips create stress on everyone and that stress is not always unhealthy.  Regardless setting the tone from yourself as the key leader will translate down through the rest of your time.  Ideas like an early cup of coffee, late night ice cream, stopping at a local bakery for sweets to share or a middle of the day game of soccer can all help your team enjoy their time!