Having just walked out of a 90-minute meeting of writing copy for a website, I needed a quick break. I took a detour back to my office and decided to see what our intern Emerson Kennedy (@emersonkennedy4) was up to. He was busy putting the finishing touches on a sermon that he will be preaching this coming Sunday. It seemed like he was ready for a break as well, because we launched into a conversation about everything from leadership to goal setting to affinity for ancient languages to practical ministry.
"What do you love doing most in ministry?" Emerson asked.
The question caught me off guard partly because I hadn’t thought about it lately, partly because sometimes I forget that it’s actually okay to enjoy ministry, and partly because it’s a great question to consider. It’s one of those questions to come back to in times of struggle and spiritually dry seasons.
The part of ministry that I love most comes directly from the Scripture that I love most:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Here’s why I love this verse…
It reminds me of the high value God places on people.
The crown jewel of creation is mankind. God saw that creation was “very good” after human life was created.
Now, Ephesians 2:10 comes directly after Paul talks about salvation that comes from the gift of grace that is given to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Further evidence of God’s high view of you is His decision to rescue us by sending His Son.
For more on this topic, take a look at Psalm 139 and meditate on those verses. Maybe the most productive thing that we can do this week is to remind someone that they are loved and highly valued by the Creator of the Universe.
It reminds me of the purpose that God has for us.
We have a great purpose while we’re here. We are created in Christ Jesus…we are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. This isn’t so that we can look at others and notice that we’re “in” and others are “out”. We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
These works are things that we are now able to do now that we are alive in Christ. These are things that are done with the purpose of making a Kingdom impact here on earth. This is something that Christ In Youth (CIY) is obsessed with…just checkout the #KingdomWorker hashtag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
God has prepared good works for you to do, but the door of faithfulness is yours to walk through. The beautiful thing about the work that God has prepared for us to do in Christ Jesus is that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s presence living inside of us empowers our feeble natural gifts, abilities and strengths to accomplish more than we can ask for or imagine.
A couple weeks ago I asked someone about the stress and the amount of work that it took to serve in a particular volunteer role in the church. Their response is seared in my heart and mind, “We love it…honestly, it’s right in our sweet spot.”
“Your sweet spot is the place where your strengths and passions intersect.” Ken Coleman
So, what do I love doing most in ministry?
Opening doors for others to find their sweet spot while serving God. Helping others experience the joy of using their gifts to God’s glory as Kingdom Workers.
I hope to work as a minister for many years to come at creating straight paths of opportunity to engage as many people as possible in Kingdom Work.
What do you love doing most in the work that you do?
She’s not even 5 years old yet, but my daughter knows the word. I remember we were all sitting around in our living room and someone spilled something and it was one of those moments when everyone stops for a second and looks at one another and then at the newly made mess.
Then she says it…and somehow she’s even learned to say it in a high pitched, sing-songy style, “Awk-ward!” Erin and I look at each other and laugh because we know exactly where she’s learned this.
We’ve all had our share of awkward moments, and if you can’t think of any that you’ve been through…it’s probably because you haven’t reached middle school yet. (can I get an “amen”?) A quick look at the definition of awkward shows us why we shy away from the awkward situation. Here’s the definition:
1 – causing difficulty; hard to deal with.
(see “I can’t even…)
2 – causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience
No one likes embarrassment and inconvenience…it’s the awkward that can be downright frightening, yet the road to awesome goes directly through Awkwardville.
Think about that first day of freshman year.
Think about that first date.
Think about that first workout in the gym.
Think about that first day at the new job.
Think about that first day that you began living out your faith.
Awkward lives at the beginning stages of anything significant. Just think about an infant that is learning how to walk. They repeatedly get up, rock a little bit, take a fearful jab step and then return to the ground with a thud. The difference is that infants are cute when they’re awkward. However, for the infant, on the other side of awkward is the awesome ability to walk.
If we want to grow in any facet of life, we have to be willing to embrace the immediate awkward outcomes so that we might have awesome opportunities in the future. Let’s get started…
Try Something New
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
If you aren’t familiar with awkward moments anymore…it may be because you’ve ordered your life in such a way that takes awkward out of play. Some might call this “settling”, but I don’t think it’s so much settling, as it is safe.
Take a new class.
Teach a new class.
Talk to a friend about your faith.
Ask someone how you can pray for them, and pray for them on the spot.
Set a workout goal…and begin working out.
I started blogging one year ago…it’s been an up and down year. I’m still working through the awkward phases and figuring this whole thing out, but without trying I’d be nowhere.
In 2011, I began running and I couldn’t go one half mile without giving up. I’m slow. I’m weak. In my mind’s eye, I look graceful while running. In a mirror I look like Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes dancing while running. But without trying, I would have never finished a couple half marathons and a Tough Mudder.
What is something new that you’ve always wanted to try why not go for it?
Find A Guide
Every good story has a guide, someone who comes alongside the main character to help them through their problem. The problem that we all have when we try something new is that we’re no good at it, and it’s awkward.
Finding someone to journey with will help you endure the awkward and tough seasons and also celebrate little awesome victories along the way. Everything significant area of growth that I have experienced in my life is a result of another voice or many voices pouring into me.
Luke Skywalker had Yoda. You need a Yoda. Go find them…ask them!
If you’re looking for a guide, I’m available…let’s chat…email@example.com
Set Goals For Growth
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda
I acknowledge that it is criminal for a guy who has never seen one Star Wars movie in it’s entirety to make multiple references in one blog post. But I digress.
Moving from awkward to awesome takes an intentional investment of time, and probably some amount of money. Here is where a good guide will come in handy, they can help you invest wisely to get the most from your time and money spent.
For a goal to work for you, it must…
Have a time limit.
Be in writing.
(from the EntreLeadership Goal Tracker)
Here are a couple of Free Resources to help you get started on setting goals for growth:
Michael Hyatt’s Goal Setting For Beginners
EntreLeadership’s Goal Tracker (email required to get the tool)
There are awesome breakthroughs waiting for you on the other side of awkward beginnings.
There’s no question that the most awkward beginning of my life was when I began walking with Jesus after making him the leader and savior of my life. I didn’t know what I was doing, and there are still plenty of days when I don’t know what I’m doing. I know that God is always faithful. I have tried to honor Him in any new endeavor that I attempt. The Holy Spirit and Scripture are the best guides. I’m so thankful for friends that have come alongside me to help me set goals and grow spiritually.
My hope is that this blog with help even one person.
In recent conversations with church leaders in their 20's, I've noticed that the issue of credibility seemed to be a consistent source of difficulty and struggle. This post is for anyone struggling with building credibility among their colleagues.
Let's start by acknowledging that you will never be done building credibility. Even the leader at the top is building credibility, they just have a longer track record of doing it effectively. Imagine the ego it takes to assume that you have all the credibility you ever need, this is the seat of arrogance. The moment we cease building credibility is the moment it starts to deteriorate. Here are some ways you can start building and keep building.
"Our words can pave the way to our success. But they can also block our path."
- Michael Hyatt
It's been well documented that words matter, a lot. We must not assume that just because immediate action is not taken on our idea in a brainstorming meeting, that our input has not been heard. We must continue sharing ideas and showcase that we have the capacity to think critically and deeply.
Challenge yourself to encourage one person, give at least one piece of important information regarding your work, and ask one thoughtful question at your next meeting. Doing this will help others value your words, because they realize how highly you value your words and your colleagues.
"Don't show up to prove; show up to improve."
The regular work that we do on a daily basis creates a credibility transaction. At the end of each day, we either improve in the little things and made a deposit into our credibility account, or we slack on the details and make regular withdrawals. It's simple, the account does not grow when regular withdrawals are made. On the other hand, when we show up and improve on the little things, not only do we make deposits toward our credibility, others will follow. The result is an exponential growth in credibility over time.
When it comes to credibility, the growth takes time. This can be frustrating for young leaders, but relax, because if there's one thing that young leaders have more than older leaders...it's time! So show up and improve every day.
"Just imagine how much work you'd get done, if you stopped actively sabotaging your own work."
Quitting is the ultimate destroyer of credibility.
Are there good, valid reasons to quit? Sure. You and I can choose to quit at any time, but we do not get to choose how greatly our credibility may suffer because of it. But this is more than, "just hang in there"...that advice never helps. Let's try actively to see things differently.
Sometimes the only proactive thing that we can do when our work or our situation becomes frustrating is to change perspectives. To look at it from another angle. Ask the same questions, but ask them differently using a new perspective. I want to go on and on here, but I simply want to encourage you NOT to quit.
Tenacity is to credibility what Samwise is to Frodo. So don't sabotage your credibility by quitting.
Honor The Past.
It's rumored that college basketball coach, Thad Matta, sits his freshman class down in the middle of The Ohio State University basketball arena and asks them to look around at all the banners and accolades hanging from the rafters and on the walls. Matta says, "look around and see all of the success that is represented here...I want you to realize something. You had NOTHING to do with it."
Matta wants his freshmen athletes to know that if they commit to working hard that they will earn the same the success that past individuals and teams have demonstrated.
Leaders can build credibility when they honor the great things that the leaders that have gone before them have accomplished. The older leaders in an organization have put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get things where they are today. The next generation of success will require nothing less.
So, if you're interested in building credibility, you can start right now! Realize that your words matter. Show up to improve every day. Don't quit because quitting destroys credibility. Honor the leaders that came before you and aspire to have the same wealth of credibility that they have earned.
What do you think is the greatest barrier to building credibility?
What factors have you found helpful when it comes to building credibility?