Monday, June 29, 2009

integrity comes first: asg five

Being in a leadership position will give you lots of opportunities to be out of class. I've heard countless times from people in the hallway, "man, are you ever in class?" The truth is, I was in class a lot more than I could have been. Because again, being in a position of leadership in the school will allow you a lot of freedom.

There are plenty of students in the school who will take advantage of every opportunity to be out of class. They will know which teachers they can get a note from to skip, and they will do that often. The one thing that allows you to stay respected, despite the fact that you are questioning the system and pushing the envelope, is the depth of your character. The standard is set higher for you as a leader than anyone else in the school. You can either choose to take advantage of your position, or choose to never compromise your integrity. It will be a lot easier to take advantage of your position, and choosing not to compromise your integrity WILL BE overlooked, but that's who you are as a leader. You can choose to do the right thing regardless of whether or not anyone is going to notice or give you recognition.

If at any point you're caught intentionally being dishonest, the respect people have for you will be gone immediately. So put your integrity first. Put it above everything.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

why do you believe in jesus?

Here's two questions from the book Community by Adam Robinson:

If no one you knew believed in Jesus, would you?

If everyone you knew suddenly decided Jesus wasn't really the son of God, would you?

Wow. Thinking about those two questions really blows my mind. Essentially the question is this: Is your belief in this Jesus thing REALLY based on your own personal relationship with him, or just based on the culture you're living in?

The person who got me started on my spiritual journey was my dad. As a kid he is the one who taught me about the Bible and explained what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. Because of that, he has more influence in my spiritual life than anyone. If he came to me and said, "Son, I really need to talk to you. I don't believe in Jesus anymore.." what would I say?? If the person with the most influence in your life came to you and said that, what would you do? Would you still choose to believe it or would it cause you to change your mind?

Do you follow Jesus because HE'S convinced you he is who he says he is, or do you follow him because you assume the people you respect are convinced? Wow. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

strength finder results

I'm a huge studier of personalities and personality tests. Typically I talk about MBTI, because based on what I've read I think it explains people the best and is most accurate, but lately people are talking a lot about Strength Finders. I took the test and here are my results.


Strength Finders:

Focus- People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

Relator- People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Deliberative- People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

Futuristic- People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

Belief- People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

Strength Finders has helped me understand certain traits I have a whole lot better, and also how I can use those traits for my benefit. I recommend buying the book and taking the test. Haha I know my opinion about such things really inspires you..

What are your traits?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

big stuf 09: time

At Grace we take our middle school students to Student Life Camp and our high school students to Big Stuf. Student Life has a lot more organized activities and structure, and Big Stuf has a lot more free time and better production. The last thing you want in student ministry is a hyper middle school boy who can't find a place to invest his energy... and at Big Stuf there are too many of those potential situations.

Getting to experience both camps the past two years has been really cool. I really enjoyed both camps, but took different things away from both of them. As a whole, though, I think Big Stuf is probably the best camp a high school student in America could attend. Here are a few main thoughts from the week.

1. The production was excellent this year. As much as I love Steve Fee and Kristian Stanfill, I'm really not sure anyone could have done a better job leading this week than Eddie Kirkland did. He is the type of guy that knows how to get out of the way and allow you to connect with God. Also from a production standpoint, the stage was the coolest stage I've seen in my four years at Big Stuf. Awesome.

2. Our group really meshed well. In years past there's always been some kind of drama to arise at some point during the week. None of that happened this year. Everyone got along, everyone stayed focused for the most part, and everyone had a good time.

3. Service flow and transitioning could be much smoother. I love Lanny Donoho and think he was so much more focused and host-like this year, but I still just think they could do a better job of organizing their services. Multiple, multiple times Lanny would come out and explain what we were about to see in a video. Just show the video! If the video fits it will explain itself. Also, the placement of videos I thought were off a lot of the times. I almost felt like they just had a bunch of cool videos they wanted to show and so they just threw them into the service somewhere. They could have started with the videos in a lot of cases and it could have made more sense than Lanny coming BACK out to explain what was about to happen. It's not that I don't like Lanny, I just think we see too much of him sometimes.

Ultimately, Big Stuf is awesome and I absolutely love it. That doesn't mean they can't improve on a few things. I'm sure there's probably some principle or strategy behind their service flow, but I think it would be more strategic to take into account the fact there are some extreme detail oriented people who have to sit through their services. Personally I don't really mind all the randomness that goes on during the service, but I think it would be way more effective if the randomness was built into a structure rather than the structure being defined by the randomness. The whole Lanny Donoho stage presence is hilarious when he's with Andy or Reggie on stage interrupting them, but it can be a little overwhelming when he's by himself.

I do love Lanny Donoho, though. Just to clarify.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

student life camp: night three

Here's the final video from camp. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

student life camp: night two

Another awesome day at camp. Here's our 2nd video!

Friday, June 12, 2009

student life camp: night one

We've had a ton of fun today here at camp. Here's some of the guys in my room.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

middle school camp kicking off

Tomorrow is the big day! 25 of the craziest, most ridiculous, hyper-active, and out of control middle schoolers will be heading to Talladega, AL for Student Life camp. I'm so excited to see what God has planned for us this weekend! It's going to be such an awesome opportunity for our students to connect with God in a real way (not to mention make a ton of "you remember the time when..." type stories.)

Camp is just an opportunity for us to connect with each other and build on what we experience every single week at Remix. Please keep the students and leaders in your prayers this weekend. Pray that we would all be safe, have a great time, and ultimately learn how to live more like Jesus. We'll be posting videos, pictures, and stories all week on the blog... so be sure to check this weekend for updates! Next Stop... WHATABURGER!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

question the system: asg four

Every time you walk into a public high school you're also involuntarily walking into one of the biggest bureaucracies in the world. There's a specific chain of command that every decision must go through, and honestly I think it's a really inefficient system, but that's beside the point. Since that chain exists, every student in a leadership position is caught in a very awkward tension; they have responsibility without authority.

This tension is honestly what causes most student leaders to be completely ineffective. There are tasks you're supposed to complete, but you don't have any authority in the system to complete those tasks. Frankly, there's tons of stupid processes that students would have to go through if they actually wanted to make a difference, and it can seem pretty unrealistic to fight those at times. No matter how impossible or time consuming it feels, constantly question the system.

Just because someone says, "this is the way you have to do that," doesn't mean that that's the way you have to do it. It means that's the way they would rather you do it, and it also probably means that's the way everyone else has always done it. In that moment, though, if you question the system and act differently, you can set yourself apart as a leader.

Sadly, most teachers at the school aren't going to share the same passion for improving that student leaders are. Because of that, questioning the system causes you to stick your neck out a little bit. Your reputation is somewhat on the line when you get approval for something that goes against the system; so make sure you have a plan. The worst thing you can do is push for something that is outside of the norm and then not have your ideas together and it flop. Trust me, that's a crappy feeling.

Bottom line: Question the system. Get the principal on your side and push the envelope.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the center of family ministry

The last few days I've spent a lot of time reading through lessons for Kids' ministry. Part of my responsibility as a Family Ministry intern this summer is to pick out material for a mission trip to New Orleans in July. We'll basically be doing Crosstreet (which is our weekly ministry for kids at Grace Community Church) and a back yard Bible club type deal for kids in New Orleans. I've really enjoyed over viewing the curriculum.

One thing I've landed on through the whole process is this: Regardless of the principles you are teaching, Jesus must be the center. It's so huge to teach kids "bottom lines" and simple truths and principles about character, but if Jesus is not at the center of all those things then at the end of the day, to me, you've done more harm than good.

I'm currently under the conviction that the world needs more people willing to stand up for Jesus than it needs people with solid morals. Jesus saves the world; ethics just preserve it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

empower followers: asg three

Obviously one of the most talked about leadership principles is that of delegation. There's no question that the more people there are working on something, the less that each individual has to contribute to a project. The problem, however, is that people with extreme amounts of leadership have a tendency to think that other people are not competent enough to perform the tasks that need to get done. It's so easy to feel like no one else even understands what you're trying to accomplish, and even if they did they probably couldn't execute it in the way we want them to... right?

Actually that is counter-productive for a couple of reasons. First of all, if you are being bogged down with routine details you're not free to make sure the entire vision as a whole (that YOU crafted by the way) is being executed properly. It's easy to become so loaded with details that the entire idea becomes stalled. Great great leaders know when to lose the battle to win the war. Sometimes letting go of details is essential.

Second of all, if you are a leader you should be able to sell your followers on your idea. If you do that effectively, then wouldn't it make sense for them to be excited enough that they want to contribute in their own way? If you want people to get on board with whatever you're doing, they have to have a voice once they're on board. Otherwise, you're going to destroy a whole lot of potentially positive energy.

If you want your vision to be a success, other people obviously have to want that as well. Sometimes that may mean the end result looks differently than you thought it would, but the vision is bigger than the shape of the result; the vision is the difference you wanted to make. Empower your followers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

twitter's picture problem

Friday night I attempted to change my profile picture on twitter. Originally it was just not replacing my old picture. I was a tad aggravated, but I thought it would maybe just take a few minutes to register or pend or something. So I went to bed and didn't think much of it. Saturday morning the problem still existed, but now my old picture was missing also. Instead of having a picture I had a little box with nothing but my name written in it.

I would love to say that the problem is behind me now, but unfortunately that's not the case. It's now Tuesday morning and I still don't have a picture, even though I've attempted to upload one over 200 times. Also, there are 8,000+ people with the same problem. What's so frustrating about it all is that they JUST LITERALLY 5 MINUTES AGO gave us any updates to the problem at all. In fact, I am now updating this blog post, because at the time it originally posted they hadn't given us ANY info! At least they have actually acknowledged the problem now!

If you're having this problem too, please don't be a jerk and write them a mean message or anything, despite how tempting that is. I'm doing my best to remain calm about the problem, even in the midst of its ridiculousness. Instead, just be annoying and constantly tweet @twitter using the term Picture Problem!

Monday, June 1, 2009

hillsong united in nasvhille

Saturday night Hillsong United played at Belmont in Nashville. They are one of my favorite worship bands, and it was so awesome getting to see them live. I'm an evaluator, so I couldn't help but notice a few things they do that make them so powerful.

1. Lyrics. Obviously that's the most important thing about their songs. A lot of worship songs seem like just a cliche' way of telling God what we tell him in every other song, but Hillsong communicates their vision for the Christian movement in every song. I love that because it stretches everyone to surrender fully to God.

2. Transitions. To me, the thing that makes them so good is the way they go from absolutely nothing to absolute energy so quickly. Five or six times there was nothing but a pad playing underneath, with all the lights off, and then all it would take is a hard snare or tom beat and all the lights are on and everyone's in.

3. Preparation. No one was using a music stand for lyrics or chords. That's just expected from a professional band, but when a worship band can do that, to me, it shows that they are worshiping with the audience. In churches I think that's one thing that could really make a difference on stage.

They're awesome, and I loved worshiping with them Saturday night.