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.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get downright discouraged about stuff. I work really hard and things just don’t always go the way I had hoped. There are times that I think for all the effort I have put in it should work but life doesn’t hand out A’s for effort. (Bummer huh?) Can you relate?
However, I have observed in myself and others that our attitude towards everything we put effort into does matter! I love watching the Olympics and seeing people giving everything they’ve got. But what I really love are the stories behind the athlete. It’s not the winners that grab my attention. My heartstrings are tugged when I know the challenges a person overcame just to get to participate in the Olympics. It’s their attitude that ultimately got them to where they are. A person can be awesome at something but when things don’t go just their way, take on a sour attitude, and actually sabotage their own dreams.
Now I don’t know about you but I can get pretty stuck sometimes emotionally. I get a picture in my head and that is what I want to accomplish, period! When things don’t go as I plan, like anyone, I have a choice to make, either get ticked or step back and get creative. This, of course, is easier said than done. Sometimes I get really passionate about stuff. But being a donkey’s behind doesn’t get me anywhere! I have to talk myself out of feeling like I have every right to have a big old pitty party highlighted with lovely outbursts of frustration and a few colorful words.
Being a songwriter I have found that writing a song about life’s speed bumps is a great way to go! A few years ago I wrote a song called, The Construction Man Blues, because there was so much construction going on that I couldn’t start recording my third CD. It’s one of my favorites!
A few months later I was on my way to a gig, when my iPhone map-app sent me to a construction site instead of the Coffee Studio. I was honked off at first and figured it wouldn’t be worth writing because it would be a bit too colorful to share (ahem, unhelpful attitude). But then I figured out it could be a fun topic and I got creative (better attitude).
Ironically, the delay of recording my 3rd CD has allowed me the time and the life experiences I needed to be able to write several new songs. These news songs I think are some of my best material yet! The CD is going to have a nice mix of folk and blues when it is done. These are my two favorite styles.
Remember, attitude is everything. It can move you forward or drag you down. It’s solely up to you!
What moments in your life have required you to shift your attitude?
Add to the conversation (below)! We’ll be glad you did.
A hipster poseur is someone who pretends. Someone who poses. Someone who wants to fit in. We all saw them in school. Some of us were them. Or at least we wanted to be.
In youth ministry, it is not uncommon to bump into hipster poseurs. They can be fledglings just starting their ministry career. They can be old farts who know better. In either case, it’s sad and just so unneccesary.
You don’t have to be young and hip to be a good youth minister. If you are young, you will be inexperienced, though. However, it is common that someone entering into a youth ministry career is, arguably, still a youth. Makes sense, in may respects. In others, not so much.
On one hand, the fresh-faced youth minister might feel unworthy. Perhaps over his head. Even inclined to grovel (think Wayne and Garth…even Moses). But at the same time, she may be agitated that some of the people she serves don’t recognize her amazing abilities. They may even question the validity of her calling to ministry. That’s tension. Push, pull.
No Harm, No Foul, No Curse
But think about it. There’s tension for the older youth minister, too. They’re the weary veteran of days of phone calls, months worth of retreats, years of lock-ins. They’ve got mileage on their youth ministry chassis. It’s left a mark. Some rust is showing in the wheel wells, if you follow me. My dear friend, Roger, loves doing youth ministry and is SO tired of lock-ins.
What’s unique to the young and inexperienced youth minister is that they’re young and inexperienced. Not just in youth ministry, but in life. That’s usually where the sense of inadequacy and unworthiness comes from. It’s the soil in which their insecurity grows. The more experienced youth minister really has been there, done that. Like all of us, the older youth minister is every age they’ve ever been. Hopefully along the way they’ve catalogued some insights and perspective that the newbie just can’t bring to the table. Yet…
The Dilemma of Age
So, is there an optimal age for a youth minister?
The age you happen to be at this very moment.
Engage here. What are your thoughts? More importantly, what’s your experience of age within the realm of youth ministry?
Is Church Leadership Really Like Watching Sausage Being Made?
Recently, I heard it said, a bit jokingly, that there are two things a person shouldn’t see:
Sausage being made
Church leadership in action
Having seen my fill of church leadership in action, both as a full-time staff member and a deeply involved volunteer, I can tell you that there is some truth to the metaphorical warning. Like any institution that involves multiple people in a decision making process, the very process can be laborious and messy. Points of view, positions and even feelings can get ground up and extruded out, while the goal is that something palatable and useful is being made in that process.
I can also assert that more than a few times I felt as if I was the sausage. Or at least the raw material from which the sausage was squeezed from. Very little seemed “sacred” within the discussion and implementation of the leadership of the church. Indeed, it seemed no better than the poorest of secular behaviors.
But Must It Be Like This?
Here’s the thing: why is it acceptable for the church to behave in the same way as the secular? Indeed, is it so commonplace that it’s to be joked about?
Sausage, by its very nature, has a predictable sameness to it. Precise widths. Uniform lengths. Consistency of texture and taste. One link just like the next. Like little soldiers. After having been crushed, mangled and ground.
Is this what we really want from our church leaders’ experience? Numbing repetition? Commitment to “the way it’s always been done?” Creativity crushed? Acceptance of poor behavior amongst leaders?
A New Metaphor
If, in fact, the actions of the leadership of any church can be compared in any way to the making of sausage, then something is completely out of whack. While this may be commonplace among the secular (and I’m not convinced that’s true), it is not acceptable within a Christian community. It’s nothing more than a glaring symptom of disease, a heartbreaking lack of vision, capitulation and a full embrace of the world’s mediocrity.
1 Corinthians 1:10I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Does that sound like sausage making and something to avoid watching?
Engage here. Do you believe that church leaders are called to something higher than sausage creation? Is there someone you know that may need to consider this paradigm shift in metaphors…and behavior?