As discussed in our blog, Holy Spoke, the importance of having strong spokes inside your wheel is key to keeping things rolling! This is one of those important spokes.
It’s really necessary one way or another to make sure you are involved with a peer group of fellow youth pastors. If one doesn’t exist in your town, create one yourself and host it at your church location! Meeting monthly with other people who do the same job you do is important, helpful, and at times may become really necessary for your personal sanity. Your ministry is a very specialized area of employment with it’s own unique challenges. Talking with people who understand your world and your daily experience can be very helpful.
During the first few years of my 7 year career in Youth Ministry my husband worked part-time at a bicycle shop nearby. This gave him the freedom to help me out with overnight youth events and such. The shop experience gave us a chance to minister to some teens outside of our youth group which was pretty neat. It was also a fun topic for Joel to “bond” with the guys in the youth group. The highlight for me was having Joel and I ride our tandem bicycle down the center aisle to the front of the church during worship so I could do a special youth sermon. It was a hoot!
I still find it amazing how 2 skinny bicycle tires can hold up to a few hundred pounds and transport all that weight from A to B! However, there are times when even the tires can’t help but become shaped like a taco! Back in those days Joel saw many a sad squished bike wheel in the shop. One major part of a bike wheels strength is the multiple thin spokes crisscrossing from one side to the other. If it weren’t for those spokes the circle would squish! But working together those skinny little pieces of metal can hold a whole lot of weight.
And The Point Is?
We are each a lot like that bike tire. We need structure and support to keep us strong or else we can get taco-d too, by angry parents, grumpy teens, unsupportive congregational members, uninvolved pastors, etc. When doing youth ministry we need the support of others who understand what we do, how hard we work, a listening ear, words of advice, and a whole lot of prayer!
4 Tools 4 Youth Ministry
Our company, Prepare For Rain, is all about being supportive spokes to hard working folks! We want to help you chase your passions and impact this world in a holy way. We hope our words of support will help you:
Set healthy boundaries for yourself both at church and home
Encouragement for the tough days
Experience an at-a-girl or at-a-boy for those good days!
Discover tools for your Youth Ministry Tool Kit!
We hope to be one of your “holy spokes” of support!! If you have a topic you’d like us to address send me an a message at the bottom of this page. We will do our best to answer your questions or find someone else who can!
Learn more about an amazing power tool made just for YMs like you (by clicking here)!!
“We’re all terminal, man!” When I was a 25-year old graduate student and had just told a classmate, Dave, that my father was dying from terminal brain cancer, this was his response. Having delivered the message he felt important to share, he turned and walked away. We never spoke again. Apparently my unpleasant news and accompanying vulnerability was unwelcome. Unsettling, even. A day ruiner. He was not happy about dealing with difficult things.
To this day, what is most striking to me about his response is not its abject callousness. Not its utter dearth of compassion. Not even its basic rudeness, as if we had just disagreed about the intrinsic value of a lecture we’d just listened to instead of the imminent demise of my dad. (more…)
For decades, the economy has been shifting away from manufacturing and industry. Now, knowledge drives economic growth. The most successful entrepreneurs in recent years are known for their creative genius. Consider Steve Jobs, of Apple. Bill Gates, of Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook. Warren Buffett, uber-investor of Berkshire-Hathaway. Elon Musk, of Space X and Tesla. Richard Branson, of Virgin. Even JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter “empire.” Many more names come to mind.
Schools have their hands full already. Bringing the kinds of learning necessary for students to thrive, creatively, in this knowledge-based economy? That’s a challenge in times of lean budgets. In fact, too often, “creative” programs are considered fluffy. When push comes to shove, funding is cut.
In stark contrast, many successful people became successful because of their creativity, not inspite of it. Their success came from…what they didn’t know. Their creative impulse drove them to try something. Something new. Something different. Something never done before.
Recently, my daughter and I were interviewed on our local NBC affiliate, on this subject. We had a delightful time. Over the past 3 years we observed something. Jessica grew more interested in writing fiction, as she has observed me writing fiction. Accidentally, we then tripped into the next 4 steps in nurturing her creative genius. Soon, she’ll have her inaugural fantasy novel published! This exciting event in her life prompted the interview. Feel free to watch, if you’d like. It’s just 3.5 minutes long. [Note: click on the little CC button in the lower right of the screen if you don’t need closed-captioning]
5 Steps to Nurture Creative Genius
As supportive adults in the lives of kids—youth ministers, volunteers, clergy, counselors, parents & grandparents—we can impact how deeply and how farkids engage their creativity. Big challenges face the world young people will inherit. Nurturing a habit of creativity will enhance not just the lives of those creatives but those they influence.
These steps might seem simple or obvious. But consider what impact greater intentionality would bring.
Notice the things that interest the kids you influence. It could be reading, writing, drama, music, poetry, design, building things. Just make mental notes of what gets them excited and engaged. These interests might fall under the simpler heading, “Hobbies.” But not all hobbies have the element of creation around them.
Find avenues for them to pursue their interest. Is there an inexpensive way to try it out? A a club to join? Not all creative interests will stick, so you won’t want to go all-in right away supporting Junior’s creative jag. Remain observant, because the newer creative interest may build of the earlier one. That may indicate a creative trend.
Provide simple ways for your kids to try out new things. And more new things. The idea is to nurture a spirit of creative exploration.
Sometimes kids get distracted by the newest “shiny object” so a little guidance back to the core interest might help. In a world full of iThis and iThat and millions of apps to amuse and distract, your work is cut out for you. If all else fails, maybe their creative energy can be aimed at developing a new app!
Always take time to celebrate and recognize kid’s achievements along the way. This should be a fun process, not an end goal. Have fun nurturing creative genius. And make sure the genius has fun, too!
What do you think? Is creativity essential? Or over-rated? Do you think the economy has really changed? Or not so much? Make your case.
Engage here. Lob your comments into the discussion panel below. Curious about the books Joel has written? Click here for the books in our store.
It’s simple enough and requires no math skill. Spend more money than you make. You go into debt.
That was true for us, as we revealed in part one of this series. In retrospect, there really was no way to avoid that unpleasant money outcome, given our meager income versus the cost-of-living challenges we faced. Consequently, as soon as we could we sought out greater income opportunities. Things got better.
As we saw last time, having loads of money doesn’t mean you will feel secure. Kara and Ron taught me that, as a financial planner.
Many people around the world, especially in America, had been living very high until the Great Recession hit. Things were pretty good. Money was moving easily. Account values and home prices were rising quickly. The expectation of that continuing may have actually set us up for the crash.
Life is what happens after you make plans.
But that assumes that there was a plan. Many people, around 2007, didn’t have any plan. They were winging it. Things felt good. And making a plan felt like work. Even unnecessary. They found out the hard way that not having a plan feels terrible and creates much more work, headaches, and heartache.
5 Steps to Emotional Recovery
So, what does it mean and how do you “prepare for rain” in your life? Prepare For Rain is a place where people get “unstuck,” start growing again, and renew their dreams and passions. To do that, you must take these five key steps:
Recognize that you need “rain” in your life. Because of the Great Recession, that’s not so hard these days. Of course, we’re not talking about physical rain. Too many people are stuck in the mindset and expectation of scarcity, rather than abundance, even with money. “Rain” here means renewal, restoration, maybe even rebirth.
Honestly reflect on where you are right now. Is your work satisfying to you? Sure, it’s important to have income, but are you trading your time for too little money? Is there something else you could do to supplement your income? A part-time job? Better yet, a home-based business that involves something you love…something you are gifted at?
Get serious about your debt/income ratio. I’m all in favor of not having debt. But I don’t advocate people get out of debt as fast as they can—as many financial experts do. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally on board with the concept and the goal of becoming debt-free. The problem isn’t with the concept. It’s with people’s money habits. Many behaviors need to change, simultaneously, to achieve a “no-debt” status. Debt isn’t evil. It makes economies run and allows companies to expand, which includes hiring more people. The critical issue is how expensive is the debt: how much does it actually cost to buy the money. As an advisor—and then a leader of advisors—I saw many people work very hard at paying off their debt, using every spare dollar to do so. Often, I was advising and helping them to do so. While their goal was admirable, when life threw them a curve some stopped trying. Because every dollar had gone to debt-reduction, no money went to savings [not what I recommended]. So, what happened when life threw them a curve? They went back into debt to deal with the challenge. For some, this became a rinse & repeat cycle. They felt defeated. Therefore, I advocate that you continue building a savings account even while paying down the debt because it’s proactive and responsible.
Re-engage your dreams. Chances are high that you put them on a shelf some time ago. Maybe a very long time ago. Why? Because you needed to work? OK, but why does it have to be one or the other? If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, then write. Get up a little earlier every day for a month…and write. See how you feel a month from now! You’ll feel awesome. Maybe you’ll have something to publish. Same thing for painting, music, poetry, whatever. It’s yourdream. No one else can bring it to life besides you.
Give back. Our perspective about things gets very skewed when we’re in our own little bubble. Volunteer somewhere. Lots of organizations need help, so find one that engages your passions.
Engage here. Does any of this resonate with you? Someone you care about? Have you downloaded our free guide yet?
In preparing for a national radio show this summer (7/23/13 program), the host explained what he wanted to cover with me. He was curious how I went from a career in full-time church-based youth ministry to an award-winning career as a field leader in the financial services industry.
Simple. Being in ministry put us in debt.
Don’t get me wrong. Being in ministry was very rewarding…and challenging. In part, because we always made so little.
Between my eight years (full-time) and my wife’s seven years, we were financially stressed. Very stressed.
I knew people in sales, especially in financial sales, like investments and insurance. It was all too clear that they were doing better financially than we were. When I debated whether I could be successful in that industry, I recognized that sales people need “people skills” and the ability to connect with others about matters of the heart. Since that is an essential skill in ministry, I believed that it could be a 2nd career path that I’d find both successful and meaningful. In fact, it ended up feeling as much a ministry as actually working within a church building.
The Trouble With Money
As a leader in a national financial planning firm, I saw a common thread in how people interacted with their money…how they felt about it…how they reacted to it.
“Trouble with money”—whether it’s our attitude about it or our behaviors with it—causes people a lot of stress. A nearly universal experience was that people didn’t feel like they ever had enough money. This wasn’t about greed, but about fear.
When Fear Comes To Town
Kara was 85 years old and widowed for many years. Her lifestyle was very comfortable. She was in extraordinarily good health. She had more than a half-million dollars in liquid assets. And she was very worried about what would happen if her health failed. She didn’t want to be a burden to her two adult kids, even though they were very successful in their own right. But Kara wanted to be sure that even an extreme long-term care event wouldn’t derail anyone in the family, financially. So, I completed a financial plan for her and was able to definitively show her she’d be fine; they’d be fine.
Ron was a depressed 57-year old when I met him. He’d lost over 50% of his retirement assets (401k plan at a major company) during the dot.com crash of 2000-2002. Because of the drop in his net worth, Ron concluded he’d need to keep working until he was at least 70. His goal of full-time fishing at age 60 was gone. Why?
He’d come to believe that because his 401(k) had reached $750,000, that he therefore needed $750,000 to retire.
Just because that’s how big the number on his statement got to before falling. When we completed a financial plan, we discovered that—based on his desired lifestyle needs and retirement goals—he only needed that value to be about $350,000, at age 60. He still had three more years to work and save…and his “shrunken” 401(k) was more than that. This news completely changed his outlook and empowered him to move forward with his original goal for retirement.
Before taking any steps, you need to get a clear picture of where your path is going. We need to work at rejecting fear in our lives. In the next blog, we’ll look at practical steps for healthy responses to money.
Engage here. What’s your experience with money? How about those around you? If you haven’t yet, download our free guide, Reclaim Your Purpose.