Eqipping the Next Generation

That’s one of our missions at Grace Church. To equip the next generation of leaders and disciples. Everything we do as a church that involves children and youth is based on this goal.

The church recently held an event that we called “Future Men”. The purpose was for anyone that has any form of influence on boys in our church to come and learn about how we can best influence and equip them to be that next generation of leaders and disciples.

As a father of two daughters, I felt that I had a vested interest in this event. Having two daughters I’m often asked about what I’m going to do when they start dating and if I’ve started saving for their weddings. The answer to the first question is easy; any boy that wants to date one of my daughters must meet me before he can take her out… and at this meeting I’ll let him know that whatever he does to my daughter, I’ll do to him.

The answer to the second question is not as easy. I’m actually not worried about paying for their weddings, that will take care of itself according to whatever means we have at that time of life. What I am worried about is the men that my daughters will marry. By no means do I think that I am a perfect example of a husband, I know that I mess that role up daily. But I hope and pray that my daughters husbands will love them as much as I love my wife. I hope that these “Future Men” will be leaders, that they will know how to accept the responsibility God gives them as a man and a husband. But most of all, I hope and pray that these men will know Christ as their Lord.

With all that in mind, I feel like I have a vested interest in anything that has to do with equipping the next generation, because in there somewhere are my daughters husbands. So, with all that said, the conference was incredible and it challenged me in ways that I parent my daughters even though it was geared toward parenting Future Men. One of the biggest things it challenged me to do, was work as hard I as I can to set the bar really high in my daughters eyes of what a man looks like and what kind of husband they want. I have a long way to go if I have any hope of meeting this goal.

One thing I can do right now, is challenge you if your reading this and you have sons to go and download the two mp3s from the Future Men conference, http://www.gracechurchsc.org/resources/teaching/. Click on the “Equipping Event” tab and download the Future Men mp3s.

What am I doing here?

Why do I have this blog? I’m not a writer. I have a poor history with consistently journaling. And if you haven’t noticed, my grammar isn’t that great (particularly my spelling skills). This thing started because my boss showed up to work one day and said the the entire company was to start individually blogging, more on that here.

So, being a company mandate I felt like I needed to talk business. Here’s the problem, I’m not a good enough businessman to consistently write about it. I would call my experience in the blogging world thus far, dabbling. I have written many posts, most were poorly thought out business observations and some were just personal grownings. I have begun to ask myself lately why I am so dissatisfied with this blog. I think it is because I don’t know where I am going… and I hate living like that.

So, I am making the official statement that this blog is operating under a total “wing it!” approach. One thing I have learned from my blogging experience, sometimes through self revelation and sometimes by observing other bloggers, is that blogging often forces us to think and process life. I seemed to have had some trouble processing the weight of life lately and that has been both humbling and frustrating. I am going to stop trying to force this blog into a category and just start rambling about whatever I need to process.

With that in mind, here’s what I have been chewing on lately. This week I have been reading 1 Peter 4:7-11. 1 Peter covers a great deal, but this particular passage had a theme that hit home with me… love others, pray for others, use your gifts for others. I felt like Peter was screaming at me to stop focusing on my own problems and start thinking of all the people I know that have problems too (many far greater than my own). In all of this, what struck me the most was in verse 11 Peter says, “…so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” Suddenly it struck me that I could not say that, I don’t think that God is glorified “in all things” that I do. The word glorified has so much to it, it requires our heart. It’s so much more than our praise or our service. To truly glorify God, I need my heart to desire Him over myself. Jesus tells us over and over that the greatest evidence of our heart’s desire is what comes out of us. And lately, I have been so consumed in my own problems that what has come out of me has been about me.

What is “Growth”?

What do you think of when you hear someone say a company is “growing”? Do you think of the size of their staff? Or maybe their profits?

That’s what I have always thought of, that is until recently.  I don’t think a company can ever stand still or remain the same. I have recently seen a local company close it’s doors, because they had good clients and were making good profits, but weren’t growing. They tried to stay the same and their business eventually dried up and didn’t have anything else on the horizon. They may not have needed new clients, their staff was more than capable of handling their workload and they certainly didn’t need higher profit margins. But, they weren’t looking beyond themselves and they weren’t adding anything to their value.

I think we have to get to a point where we see growth as more than numbers. Growth is more than the measurements written on the door jam of my daughters height. Growth is not something we can always measure. Think about that for moment, yes, I can measure her height and weight and put together a chart that shows she is following normal trends. But what I can’t measure is the growth she has had over the last year in her ability to carry on a conversation. To ask sincere questions. To care about more than herself.

There was a moment this past fall, where I realized how much my wife and I had grown over the last five years. Part of our house flooded and within a few hours, we had more help from our friends and family than we ever needed. That night, as I drove to my in-laws to stay while the house was drying out something strange happened. I wasn’t wallowing in my own self pity and asking God why he would let something like this happen to me, instead I was thanking Him for our amazing friends and how much of a blessing they had been that day. Suddenly it hit me that five years ago, I would have been wallowing. I could not have measured the growth by the number of friends that had helped us and I could not have measured it by any length of time spent “not” wallowing… but I saw huge growth.

Getting back to the business world… while not forsaking the need for profit, we need to change our perspective of growth. We need to realize that we can add more clients, we can add more staff and our profits may increase… but that doesn’t mean we are truly growing. Growth means that value has been added to something or someone… and I think we can all agree based on today’s economy, that our profits aren’t as valuable as we think they are. If there is no valuing being added, then we aren’t growing… we’re just increasing.

I could never have put it so well…

Have you ever heard something and thought, “that’s exactly what I have always thought, but couldn’t put it in words”… this morning I was reading through some blogs I follow and found this video posted to Newfangled‘s blog:

life’s busy…

Here’s the thing about a blog, you have to keep up with it. Life has been a little crazy lately, and I just haven’t had the energy or brain power to write anything.

My office is relocating… to our homes. We have decide to go lean on overhead and work from home for the next few months. We’ve been busy packing up our office and unloading our stuff at our “home” offices. It’s going to be an interesting adjustment for all of us… including our families. I am certain that this new experience is going to bring lots topics to talk about. The adventure begins on Monday.

Book Review: Click

Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters – Bill Tancer

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Click-Millions-People-Online-Matters/dp/1401323049/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234298762&sr=8-2

I just finished reading Bill Tancer’s first book, Click, and I couldn’t be happier for having read it. The subtitle of the book is very telling, “What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters.” Tancer builds a case for the use of online intelligence “to reveal the naked truth about how we use the Web, navigate to sites, and search for information.”

The book takes an approach that feels much the like Freakanomics, contrasting seemingly opposite things; like corn farmers in Iowa with quick adaptors to new technology only to reveal how the actions of the former give insight into predicting a pattern for latter. Each chapter brings new fascinating examples of how we use the Internet and what that use tells us about ourselves.

The first part of the book builds a case that our online actions reveal a lot about who we really are, by allowing us to interact in relative anonymity. Having always believed that who we are when no one is looking, is who we really are; I was enthralled with this part of the book as it confirmed belief and provided several case studies to follow. In part two Tancer begins to explain what it all means and how we can apply it to our businesses and life in general. Part two was very engaging, however, at times it felt like he was building up great anticipation for a big reveal that would only end with him telling the reader that in order to take advantage of this new knowledge you would have to hire him and his company. This is definitely not the case.

Tancer ends the book on a great note, “But when you get back to the question of why this data matters, what is very clear in the observations I’ve made in my four years studying Internet behavior patterns is that the Internet itself is changing the way we experience life.” I think most of us already knew Tancer’s statement to be true, his book not only proves it but also provides understanding as to how and what we can do to respond.

Transparency = Accountability

When I look at my list of friends in Facebook, it becomes very evident very quickly that my worlds have collided. Amongst my FB “friends” are family members, childhood friends (most of whom I am not otherwise in touch with), college room-mates and friends, past and present co-workers, business connections, friends from church and my inner circle of friends that come from all of those categories.

The “25 Random Things About Me” notes are taking over my FB network with friends and friends of friends writing and commenting on these notes everyday. After writing my post about not being a lurker in social media, I felt obligated to write one of these myself (having been tagged by one of those childhood friends I wouldn’t be in contact with if it wasn’t for Facebook). So, I put myself out there and watch my firends respond. Most were jovial and picking on me, one friend was challenged to write his own 25 things… but the most revealing thing came from a “friend” who was a business collegue I have known for about five years. He is what he had to say after reading my 25 Random Things, “You’re the first i’ve known to actually write the 25 random things and it’s a great idea. I’ve known you for years and never knew some of / most of, this stuff. thanks for sharing.”

Talk about world’s colliding, while most of the comments I received were from family and my inner circle of friends who were all giving me a hard time about my idiosyncracies, he was a gentleman that I had known for years and interacted with on a regular basis that didn’t really know much about me. I hadn’t kept him at a distance on purpose, our conversations had always been about business or the weather with the occasional divergence into our family life. Now, he was going to be able to approach me a whole different way, the next time he and I interact in the business world we’ll be able to relate to each other better because he knows me on a personal level. I like that.

Here’s the thing, I have talked to many people about the phenomenon of Facebook. People that were concerned an inappropriate picture may show up from their past or that the melding of their personal life and business life would cause them to lose respect from one group or the other. But here’s the thing, we are who we are today, because of our past experiences. Life builds on itself and we change and grow because of that.

I have always been taught that who you are when no one is looking, is who you really are. The transparency of social media and the melding of different environments, both past and present, brings a new form of accountability to our lives. And as far as I am concerned, accountability is something I can never have too much of.