Category Archives: My life
Galations 6:4-5 (NIV) Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
I read these verses in my devotions this morning, and I realized that I evaluate myself completely wrong. It is easy for me to look at other youth pastors, other churches, and everyone of my online connections and get down on myself. They have a better job. They have more students coming. Their church is much cooler. Their book has actually sold some copies. Their blog has way more visitors.
Every time I compare myself to someone else I lose.
The problem is I am holding myself to a standard that isn’t mine. God has put me in my church, with the students and culture that it has, and has put a specific calling on my life. Those are all specific for me from God. That is the only “load” I need to be carrying. I should test my own actions to that standard, not to what someone else is doing. Am I fulfilling everything God has asked me to do in the context He has put me in? That is the test I need to pass.
If I test my actions against someone else, I will lost every time because I don’t know their whole story. I only know what I see on the surface, not what happens behind the scenes of their life. I heard it stated like this:
“Don’t compare your behind the scenes footage to someone else’s highlight real.”
I did steal that from someone, I am sorry I can’t give you credit for this amazing statement.
Today, give yourself fully to the calling God has put on your life, and only compare yourself to that. God has given you the standard for YOUR life, so carry your load and only your load. If you don’t know what that load is, ask God and I am confident that He will tell you.
How often do you take a break from your normal routine? This past week I have taken a break from my typical routine kind of by accident. I have taken on a project of building a new dining room table and bench for my family. The Seidel’s are in need of a new table for several reasons. We have extra people eating meals with us on a regular basis and our table is too small. Our kids are through the spill everything and gouge dents in the table with their fork stage. Our current table we got for free (a total blessing) but is gouged and dented and stained to the point it is not worth repairing.
As Maureen and I were discussing our options we decided to build a table from free plans online (I have a love/hate relationship with pinterest) for a fraction of the price of just buying one.
So I have made good progress on the table, it is built and sanded ready to be stained. The bench is going to be built today. I am telling you all this for two reasons:
1. The change in routine has been refreshing
Building your own furniture is a lot of work. My muscles are sore and I have been covered in saw dust more in the last week than not. However, it has provided a break from writing, TV watching, youth ministry/church stuff, and well…my normal life and routine.
2. Stick with me until I get some new articles written
The first thing that has gotten cut from my life to work on this project is writing. I have had lots of time to think, and I have several posts in the works that I am really excited about. However they will not be written until this project is complete, so please check back and stick with me.
Do you need to change up your routine somehow?
The other day I read this article from Terry Linhart on his blog Does our desired youth ministry “platform” face the wrong audience? I really found myself resonating with his words, and I want to share his perspective with you, so go check it out.
I started down my journey of writing very naive, and sought to learn from anyone willing to help me get started. Every person I talked to had some advice, and it was all over the board as to what I should and should not do. There was one thing that everyone agreed on though; that I needed to build a “platform”. As Terry points out, and I have experienced, the issue is this platform I so desperately need to be successful as a youth ministry author is not focused on teenagers, it is focused on other youth workers.
Now I believe that investing into other youth workers is a part of the calling God has put on my heart. However, it is just that, A PART of it, not the whole thing. The time and effort that I spend focused on youth workers is time I am not investing into teenagers. I have always been annoyed that most youth ministry authors and speakers aren’t still working in churches, but I now understand why. Building and maintaining a platform takes a lot of time and effort; writing, speaking, traveling, and social media is very consuming.
There are a few people that have successfully navigated the youth ministry world as a writer and speaker and not left their church jobs behind. Out of my frustration with this whole thing I recently asked one of my friends how he was able to do this, and what his advice for me would be. The truth is I am not willing to leave my church job behind, yet I am not selling many books or landing any conference speaking gigs, hence the frustration. Here is the heart of his advice:
“I think the best way is to kill it – do GREAT ministry in your church, blog, write, and take whatever platform you’re given. Keep killing it, and keep in the trenches, and it’ll happen. I think people that try too hard have to overcompensate for being a little bit of “that guy”. No such thing as an overnight success – I blogged for an audience of 50 for my first 2 years. That was painful – way more fun to blog for thousands now. But, slugging it out, paying your dues, and being faithful with whatever God gives you is about it.” By the way, if you aren’t already part of the thousands that read Josh’s blog, check it out at www.morethandodgeball.com
So that is exactly what I am going to do. Focus on ministering to the teenagers God has put in front of me, and take whatever opportunities He provides, not what I can create for myself. So how is my platform doing? Probably pretty bad…and I am trying really hard to not care too much. How about you?
This week I wanted to share with you once again one of the defining events of my life and ministry. This was originally posted June 28th, 2011. Enjoy!
God has done a miracle!
This past week at Jr. High summer camp, God did an incredible miracle. I shared with my church the story of this miracle in the main service last Sunday, so for the details of the story I will let you hear it straight from my mouth:
The Scriptures I used in this message are:
2 Timothy 3:4-5
1 Timothy 4:12
There are two things that God has re-iterated in my mind and heart since this miracle happened.
1. I must now do what I have been telling students to do for years
I have said to students literally hundreds of times “no one can ever argue with your changed life.” I realize that some people are not going to believe that what we experienced at camp was real. but that decision by them does not change what happened or how real it was. This was the most real thing I have ever experienced in my life.
2. I am seeing what I wrote in my book actually happen
I wrote in my book that youth ministry will lead the way in changing the entire church. Not only did God do this miracle through an 8th grade boy, but during the response time on Sunday I saw teenagers who were at camp praying over adults as they accepted Christ and/or rededicated their lives to Christ. God has begun changing our church and our youth are leading the way. I am still amazed as I watch this happen in front of me. Now I just need to live out what God led me to write.
The other day in my devotions I read Colossians chapter 2; Paul mentions false humility twice (verse 18 & 23). As I have read these verses in several different versions and looked at commentaries and references, I realize this is something that really bothers me. The idea of acting and speaking in a humble manner just to cover up your arrogance . Purposefully giving the perception of humbleness when the truth is pride overflows in your heart.
With all of the big conferences and meetings I have been to, I have experienced some speakers and authors that are really good at false humility. They constantly tell you about how success has fallen in their lap, drop name after name into conversation, and rattle off their amazing credentials and resume with ease. Then the closing line always makes an appearance “it isn’t about me though.”
I have also met just as many nationally known authors and speakers that are the exact opposite of this. They genuinely care about God’s success, not their own. They pass off honor and accolades to those that help them do what they do.
I am writing this today to openly admit my struggle. Arrogance bugs me to the core, nothing makes my skin crawl more than hanging around a conceited person. I am very uncomfortable with self-promotion and marketing my own stuff. Because it is uncomfortable for me I over compensate and do it wrong. I am a horrible salesman. I have yet to write a proposal for a book or a speaking engagement that has been successful. I stink at this.
Whenever I have gained the opportunity to speak or share about my book I feel like I fail at it because I am so scared of being perceived as arrogant or self-promoting. Yesterday I led a discussion in an advanced youth ministry class at NNU. I was asked to do this and to talk about my book. It did not go as well as it could have because of this struggle that continues to rage in my heart and mind. I want so badly to help God change the landscape of youth ministry, which is why I wrote the book in the first place. Yet, I stink at marketing and promotion and so books aren’t selling. I think the only point I clearly communicated to that class yesterday was how I didn’t want to market my book to them. I love speaking and teaching about God’s word, I don’t like promoting my own stuff.
Alright…I said it. I openly admit my struggle and weakness,and with it comes a deep breath. I say all this not only to “think out loud” but also to share what I am learning from this struggle so it can hopefully help you with whatever you struggle with.
1. Acknowledge where you are weak
I realize this is a major weakness for me. With deciding to self-publish my book I knew that I would have to market and promote myself. I had no idea how bad I would be at it and/or how much time and energy it would take. No one is good at everything, we all have weaknesses. I realize now this is a major one for me.
2. Seek the right kind of help
As I have stewed over this post for a few days, I received some great advice. I need to be praying for God to raise up the right person in my life that is good at marketing and promotion, so I don’t have to do what I am not good at or comfortable with. So as I pray for this I have to keep my eyes open for the right person and opportunity.
3. Let everyone do what they are good at
I have to be willing to hand over responsibility when someone agrees to help. I have to be a team player and fulfill my role of writing and speaking as best I can, and let them do their role as best they can without controlling it. My way is obviously not working, but it can be really hard to let someone else do things their way.
I realized these concepts are ones I need to live out in many other areas of my life, not just with my book. The more I can do these, the less I will hold myself back from what God really wants to accomplish through me. What are you not good at? What is an inner struggle that you have? How are these holding you back?
My day has taken a drastic turn from where I thought it would go. I am at home taking care of one of my boys after having his tonsils out, and I had grand ideas of everything I could get caught up on with this extra time at home. Instead I just got done cleaning our car, something that was not on my list until this morning.
My wife left with our other kids and a few minutes later walked back in the house declaring that a large cup of breakfast smoothie just spilled all over her and all over the car. As she was changing clothes I went out to wipe up the car. As she came back out to leave I shot a look at her, and her response “we need to just take the other car huh?” I agreed, they left, and I fully accepted that my plans for the day had just changed.
This was not a simple wipe up kind of spill, it was on the two front seats, the floor, the dash, and even ran down between the seats and made its way all the way to the floor in the back seat. This was a complete car detail kind of situation. Upon getting started I quickly realized the fresh smoothie was not the only problem in our car. Truthfully our car has not been cleaned for a long time and we have 3 kids; it was gross. During the few hours working on this mess the same thought kept going through my mind – how did it get this bad? The simple answer is:
I let it get that bad.
I could rattle off a ton of reasons about being busy or blame it on someone else or point out the freezing weather or a number of other excuses but it would not change the truth. The truth is I have just ignored it. I knew it was dirty, but other things have seemed more important or more fun so I did nothing about it. At least until this catastrophic smoothie incident changed my priority list. Only when ignoring it was no longer an option was I able to take an honest look at the lack of cleanliness in our car.
I realize this is a concept that applies to much more than automobile care. Many times in our lives something needs attention but it is ignored until it becomes urgent. Until it gets so bad we no longer have a choice but to deal with it.
Relational issues. Physical issues. Spiritual issues. Ministry issues. We are all pretty good at ignoring important stuff until it becomes urgent damage control. Issues that could have been small turn into big things. Conversations that could have been slightly awkward become confrontational. Annoyances turn into deal breakers.
After being reminded of this today I am thinking through my life and ministry to identify what I have been ignoring that I need to deal with. Seeking God on exactly what to do and how to do it, and planning to take care of it.
What have you been ignoring that you need to deal with? What conversation have you been avoiding that you need to have? What change do you need to make but are giving excuses for? I encourage you to take action now and not let it get that bad.
I have talked about my book Flimsy Ministry quite a bit on here. It has been out for four months, and sales have been alright thus far, but slower than I had hoped. God is my marketing guy and I am relying on Him to lead me on how to market the book and to lead you to buy it and tell your friends about it. Here is my humble attempt at a promotion video.
Please share the video as you feel led and see fit.
You can click here to read reviews on Amazon and buy your copy
And please click here to like the Flimsy Ministry page on Facebook
A few weeks ago I accepted a new position. I am not leaving youth ministry. I am not leaving Cloverdale Church of God. I am officially venturing into the world of national level youth ministry (I’m not sure if that is actually a real thing…oh well).
Church of God has a few different teams of youth workers that work with all of the churches in our movement that have youth ministries. The youth ministry team (YMT) and the youth network team (YNT). I am now a member of the YNT.
I was offered a position on this team about three years ago and I didn’t take it. As I sought God about the opportunity and talked with those closest to me, I felt it was not something I needed to do, so I said no.
As I did exactly the same thing this time around I felt a different answer from God. And I had to answer this question from three different people, three people that know me REALLY well. They all asked me “what changed?”
Before I said yes I had to really think about this simple two word question, a lot. The answer is not nearly as simple as the question.
My circumstances have changed
My family life looks a lot different now. My wife is at a school a lot closer to our house and our boys are far more independent so it is easier when I travel. My church looks a lot different now. The past three years we have gone through a lot of change and transition; staffing, vision changes, and much more. Now the dust has settled a bit and we are moving forward again. Still a lot of work and effort left with both of these areas of my life, but very different than it was then.
My perspective has changed
After writing my book, working on more books, writing on this blog and other sites, and lots of conversations with several amazing youth workers my perspective of youth ministry and church ministry is different now than it was then. I feel like I have a lot more to contribute and offer now than I did then.
My heart has changed
God has done a lot of shaping and molding on me in the past three years. Being humbled is never fun, and no matter how I finish this sentence it will prove that He is not done. I know God is not done molding and changing my heart, but I am glad to be a few years further down this journey before doing this. My motivation for wanting to say yes is completely different this time.
I am thankful for all of these changes. But most of all I keep going back to how thankful I am for people in my life that will actually ask me questions like “what changed?” I truly am a very very blessed man.
Do you have people in your life that will ask you hard questions, and expect truthful answers? If you don’t you need them.