Build a Youth Pastor Peer Group in 5 Simple Steps

Build a Youth Pastor Peer Group in 5 Simple Steps

Peer Groups for Youth Pastors?

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.

Peer Group

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.


Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius: 5 Simple Steps

Nurturing Creative Genius

Genius Leads Success

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.

Genius, Interviewed

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 far kids 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.

  1. Observe:

    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.

  2. Search:

    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.

  3. Encourage:

    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.

  4. Nudge:

    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!

  5. Celebrate!

    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.

photo credit: Capture Queen ™ via photopin cc

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn’t Mean Broken

Depression Doesn't Mean BrokenDepression & Society

Society treats depression like a bad word, as if people who have it are broken.  Heaven forbid if you make any reference to possibly suffering from it!

About 5 years ago, following way too many days of crying I realized my world was in the midst of a storm and I couldn’t deal with it on my own.

I remember the day clearly, sitting in my doctor’s office.  “It’s like having this dark storm cloud hovering over my head all the time.  I just can’t seem to see the sun anymore.  I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night that wake me up.  I find myself sitting straight up in bed thinking to myself, ‘Oh no!  I forgot to turn on the dishwasher before bed.’  I find myself in a cold sweat, shaking from head to toe, ready to go into fight or flight mode.  It’s awful!”

“If I am not stressing about messing something up, during the day I feel so low and worthless I can hardly function.  Going into public to run errands, I wished I was invisible.  That way, I wouldn’t have to put words together and sound like a normal human being.”

This anxiety/depression combo resulted in me being a highly reactionary and impatient mother and wife.  I hated myself for it, too.  I wanted to be free of my own company.  I loathed having to continue being me.

Depression’s Source

My doctor inquired about my relatives and mental health issues.  “Well yes, dementia on dad’s side and depression–that kept the person from speaking for days at a time–on mom’s side.”    The doc’s face turned to a look of, “ahaa!” on her face.  She then informed me that, at no fault of mine, I was struggling with anxiety and depression.  She then explained that they are like two sides of a coin and something that can be passed down genetically.   She clarified, ”You have done nothing wrong, there is just a slight imbalance in your brain chemistry.”

In my situation a mild anti-depressant for a period of time was all I needed to see the sun again.  I rediscovered my enthusiasm and passion for music plus the guts I needed to get in front of people again.

Now, of course, everyone is different. Sometimes the chemistry in your brain needs balancing out permanently. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong. Getting your brain chemistry balanced just helps the true you shine through!

My world is not perfect now, my anxiety pops up occasionally and I am aware when clouds are threatening to cover my blue sky again.  Once in a  great while my anxiety will get the best of me and a few thoughtless words will pour out of my mouth, like Harry Potter when he tried to smile at Cho with a mouth full of pumpkin juice.

I am always striving to do better at apologizing as soon as possible and then just moving forward instead of caring my mistakes on my back like a cross I must forever bear. We all screw up. We are human. Forgiveness is not just something we are to give to others. It’s something we need to give to ourselves.

What about you? Do you, or someone you know, deal with depression? Are there tools you’ve heard about, or discovered, that are helpful?

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did. Check out this song for a little encouragement. For deeper resources (books, magazines, support groups), check these out.

photo credit: ashley rose via photopin cc

Finding Your Rhythm In Business & Life

Finding Your Rhythm In Business & Life

Finding Your Rhythm

Finding Your Rhythm? Is This About Dancing?

Actually, it sort of is, since dance is about balance and form. The essential key to getting a handle on your business success, let alone success in life, is this:

It’s not about better “time-management”— it’s about better “me-management”

Sure, there are lots of resources out there to help you with time-management or, better and more realistic, priority-management. Really, we all get the same 168 hours in a week. But clearly, some people get way more done in those 168 hours than others. They often wind up as entrepreneurs. That’s great and all. But it is still a challenge for even many of them to find their rhythm.

Rhythm is found in simplicity…

Embrace the basics—really embrace them—to find your rhythm. As you read the list of six steps below, you might feel annoyed with me. How could I state things so plain and obvious? Because we all tend to over-complicate things. We look for gimmicks. Seek the latest technique. Purchase the newest gizmo. Even though we know, deep down, we’re deferring to someone else to help us conquer…us.

So put your judgment on a shelf for a moment and see if these steps for finding your rhythm don’t resonate as simple, true…and challenging.

Rhythm’s Form in Six Steps:

  1. Wake-Up Water! Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water. When we sleep we’re effectively in a desert for 6, 7, 8 hours. That’s why it’s imperative to drink 16 ounces of water when we get up. And that’s just to get you started well. If you wait to drink until you are thirsty, you waited too long. Drink more water. Your body will thank you and you will be more productive. So will your mind.  Much more productive.
  2. Beat Back Your Inner Zombie! Most of us are sleep-deprived. We wander around like zombies in the morning—or all day! It will take time to discover your optimal sleep period. Two things that will immediately help you are turning down the lights in your house an hour before bed and turning off all screens, too. Do not sleep with your phone.
  3. Eat Less, Often! Take your typical 3 meals and break them into smaller amounts, for five or six food breaks per day. Strive for fresh. Reduce the wrappers.
  4. More Mood Food! Increase your mental calorie intake: read (books, magazines), listen (podcasts, webinars) and engage (mastermind groups, affiliation network). Check our recommended resources for a sampler of books. A great magazine is SUCCESS, which includes an awesome bonus audio CD (2 sources of mood food in one place!).
  5. Time-Block! Focus on one thing. Multitasking actually makes you stupid. In fact, more stupid than if you were smoking marijuana! So, it is an illusion–a closely-held-by-too-many-people-illusion–that you can seamlessly move from one interruption to another, while simultaneously making significant progress toward your primary goals for the day. A tool that I find extremely useful is the FocusBooster. It’s free and brilliant at helping me stay on task, while also making sure I take enough breaks throughout the day to remain fresh.
  6. Cast Out Time-Demons! The worst time-demon: email. My recommendation: limit your email time-blocks to first thing in the morning and the end of the day. Next? Interruptions. Limit them as much as you can. Close the door, if you can. Limit your access. You really can’t afford not to.

These six steps will help you get better at your own personal “me-management” rhythm. I know, because they work for me and the people I currently work with, and those I have helped in the past. While the steps on the list are pretty simple, even obvious, they are not easy. Changing habits takes time. That’s OK. It’s worth every bit of effort at finding your rhythm. Don’t forget:

Every day, in every way, you’re getting better and finding your rhythm.

Engage here. Do you find any of the six steps more difficult than the others? How have you, or are you, overcoming it? Who else could benefit from reviewing these steps? Invite them over.

photo credit: Matthew Fang via photopin cc

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops!

Persistent Positivity in the Face of Open Loops!

Persistent & positive

Persistent positivity…in the face of open loops?

Being your own cheerleader is most important!…and actually, necessary. Your view of yourself and your self talk is the most powerful input you will ever get.

Often I will discover or have it pointed out to me some routine I didn’t finish that negatively impacted someone.  We call it in my house, an “open loop.”  I open windows in the a.m. to cool down the house but I forget to close them before the sun comes around, so the house is twice as hot as it would have been. I feed the cats but forget to put away the catfood afterward.  (I will get back to the catfood in my part-2 blog.) These are the kind of loops that are easiest to leave open because they involve timing but not much thought. I can be thinking about something completely different as I do these things so I may get distracted and pick up on a thought in the middle of my task. Oi!

Here is what I mean:

The windows –  If I don’t set a timer for the closing of the windows I will most likely forget.  There have been times I have remembered early and thought to myself, ‘ it’s too early…I will come back to it’ with every intention of doing so.  Convinced I will, I go on with my day but end up completely forgetting.  I am better off doing something either immediately when I think of it or I need to set a timer.  Really those are my two options.  It’s tricky though because doing it immediately may keep you from accomplishing something else you had planned to do.  It’s good to pause and check first.  If nothing will be impacted, then go for it!

Anyway, back to my original thought – being persistent.  I accidentally tick people off, whether I know it or not.  All I can do is apologize and do my best at being aware of my open loops. (Timers can be a helpful tool.  Just remember to not pound yourself if you forget the timer, too.  Beating yourself up just makes the rest of the day worse.)

Let people express their frustration so they know you care about their feelings.  Whether you mean to do things or not, they are hurt, so let them know you love them by listening.

Try not to internalize their words of anger as attacks on who you are, it’s just what you have done. Now, yes it can be hard to separate those two but if you do you will be able to think more clearly and problem solve how to make the situation better. If you let other people’s anger completely overcome you it will distract you, and just make things worse.

You aren’t stupid, you aren’t an idiot, so just listen compassionately, keep your head on straight and be open to the fact that you just might come up with a creative idea to help improve the situation so it won’t happen quite as often. Be persistent with being persistent. 😉

What routines do you find challenging to complete? Please share. We may be able to help.

Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.

photo credit: Loving Earth via photopin cc

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