Thursday, December 30, 2010

MO question of the day: How are you bringin' in the New Year???

MO question of the day: How are you bringin' in the New Year???

Answer here

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All out of time...

About this time of year I have all the books that I am going to read for the upcoming twelve months all picked out and ready to go. The problem is that there are always like a million that do not make my list for the next year because I just can’t make room for them. That is why I am absolutely, positively, shocked out of my mind, baffled when I hear from peeps that they do not read. I was told by one of my proffs early in my college career something that I would never forget. One of the dudes in my class was bragging about how he passed high school with high grades and flying colors without ever reading one full book all the way through. He was so proud of himself. My proff called him out. He said that the kid could prolly get through college the same way. But, don’t ever expect to be a person of influence of any sorts if he chose that path. I am not sure what that student did, but I took it to heart.

Those four years I did my best to read as much as possible. I was horrible at it and read slower than molasses. But I tried – not as hard as I should at times – and got through college. When I entered my Masters right out of college I found myself with nine books to read in a matter of 16 weeks. And really we were expected to get them all done by like week three if we wanted to get good grades. It was a whole new ball game. I literally prayed to God and told him that if I was going to make it through my program, a miracle would have to occur and cause me to endure reading. Well, it happened. That semester I learned to love to read. I have no idea what happened except that God answered me favorably.

Now I can’t get enough of reading. I have books that I will not get to until three years from now. I am backed against the wall with books. And every time a mentor gives me one to read, it just bumps one further back. I will get to them, however. I will read until my eyes bleed. Because ALL leaders are readers. So with that… what are you reading?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Metal of a leader...

All leaders go through some pretty tough times. This is where the metal of the person is formed and tested. What does that mean anyway? I looked it up on line for a good half hour and did not see anything about testing a person’s metal. So I guess I just have to go off what I have seen from champions and peeps in my own life. Have you ever been in a position where you did not feel like you were doing your best? As a speaker, sometimes you get on stage and are giving all you can, only to find a room of stone-faced peeps. And this really is no fault of theirs. Think about it. When you get on stage to speak you are a performer. Now, my mentor always told me that you are never to perform. It is your job as a speaker to transfer a feeling. But I guess you cannot get around the fact that what you do and say is going to either inspire peeps or bore them. I know that is harsh and black-and-white. But if you break it down, I guess that is what it comes down to.

When I am in that position where I feel I have nothing to give, I have to rely on those who lift me up and spur me on. Who is that in your life? I have a couple of peeps that keep me both in check, as well as give me the encouragement to keep moving. Being a leader or so someone up front means that even on your worst days you need to be ready to inspire! Are you ready to take on that challenge? I did not know that it would be bad sometimes when I first started out being an up-front guy. But it all goes with the territory. Your metal as a leader will be tested in the times you do not feel ready to lead. Fail often and fail big. But get out there and do something, because the majority of peeps will not. They will look to you for guidance. And if you have gone through the fire and have been strengthened, you will be ready to lead when called.

Monday, December 20, 2010

MO question of the day: Are you artistic and creative... if so, how?

MO question of the day: Are you artistic and creative... if so, how?

Answer here

What's the last song that you listened to?

Come Together by The Beatles

Ask me anything

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Like a duck...

Sometimes you do not know what to do as a leader. I mean really, have you ever been in a situation where you knew everything was all screwed up and you needed to get stuff done? And there was absolutely no way you were going to make it happen… just remember that when you are in a position of leadership your team is looking to you for some answers and guidance. When you are faced with an impossible situation, you have to deal with it. Check this out.

Think about the last time you were in a situation where everyone panicked and did not know what to do. If the leader panicked too then it prolly made the situation worse. When I was in my first year as an intern I remember getting ready to take our church kids up to camp. I was young and did not know what was going on. I had gotten to look at stuff form the inside of the leadership circle for about a year at that point. But I was nowhere near being seasoned and ready to take the reins – to anything. Well, that is not how ministry, and leadership for that matter, works.

One hour before we were about to leave for camp me and Cobb found out that the guy was going to be in charge of the recreation time at camp (for all 500+ peeps) was backing out for some personal reasons. Well, what do you do at that point – just say we are not going to have recreation stuff? Of course not. Cobb was like, Hey MO, welcome to ministry – you are the guy in charge of this. What??? Not the best idea on his part. But hey, it was leadership and ministry and stuff had to get done. Cobb was the old guy of the camp and in charge of the whole thing. Was he gonna do it? Of course not. That would not work. And he couldn’t call someone from one of the other churches and have them do it. So, he told me to make it work. So I ran around the church and grabbed anything and everything that resembled a piece of sports equipment and threw it in the car. Yeah, it worked out.

That was an interesting camp to say the least. We were exhausted the whole time. We were always at our wits end. But, just like the duck… although we were thrashing fiercely and tirelessly under the water, on the outside we were as graceful as we could be. Not for our sakes, but for the sake of all the staff peeps that expected us to be leaders and get it done. We did – thanks to a great leader (no, not me).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holding weight...

Who are the peeps that speak into your life? There are a select few that have my ear when it comes to who I am. Most of you who read my blog know that Kevin Cobb is one of those who holds a ton of weight in my vocational and spiritual life. The reason for that is because both those go hand-in-hand. A lot of the homies ask me why I give that kind of authority to someone to make decisions in ministry and life. And for me it is kind of a no-brainer. The way I see it is that I do not know what I would do if I did not have him to speak into my life. I mean, I have made some stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes. And that is after I had Cobb in my life and was asking his advice. The problem is that he could give me all the advice and direction in the world. But I am the one who is driving the MO car. I have the wheel. Cobb, and all the other peeps that are speaking into my life are riding shotgun in any number of areas. But me listening is up to me.
There is a Buddhist proverb that says “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Now, I don’t care if you are Christian, or Buddhist, or whatever. These are true words. My question for you is regarding your willingness to learn. Are you the kind of person who does not let anyone into your life? See, I was the guy who had it all together and did not need help from anyone. I thought I was good enough to get through life on what I knew. That is a recipe for disaster. You need peeps in your life that have walked the road. When you let down your guard and give authority to someone or some people to speaking into your life, you will get tons better. So, break the barrier to your stubbornness if you do not take advice from others. If you are cool with taking advice from others then look harder. There are tons of mentors-to-be just waiting for you to become the student. The teachers are out there.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What's your number?

All of the great men and women that I spend time with, who speak into my life, read a ton of books. That is why I am absolutely flabbergasted when I meet someone who leads others who refuses to read for one reason or another. Most of the time is is because they say they do not have enough time. Well, if you want to know how I feel about that, read some of my previous blogs. What it comes down to is that you have to read if you want to influence others. I constantly ask my mentors and others who I respect what they are reading. At the end of each year I figure into my goals for the following year how many books I want to read. What is your number? If you do not have one, I would suggest that you ask your mentor. I am sure he or she will have a good list for you to use and start reading. And if you are taking advice from someone who is not reading on a continual basis, I would then suggest that you strongly consider finding a new mentor who does read.

I don’t think that if you are reading and learning that you will be able to hit your potential, in any area. Part of growth is doing stuff that you don’t have time for or do not think you can handle. I know you do not have time to read. If you did, it would be too easy. If you can set aside even half an hour a day you will put yourself way beyond where can be if you do not read. Don’t believe me… just ask a successful leader, in any field, how important reading is for them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Can't afford...

You can’t afford not to pay the price of a leader. I remember coming home late one nite after a full day at church. I mean we were all over the place. It was my frosh year at APU and I was at school on Tuesday and Thursday from 7am-10pm or I was at church Mon-Wed-Fri all day – not including the weekends. So, we were building our ministry and it was getting exciting. The group growth stuff was all kind of new to us as a staff, but we knew we were on the right track. And it’s like 1am and I’m dragging my butt into Smith Hall, the all-guys dorm (I know – boooo!!!). But I am exhausted, walking down the hallway to my room. All my boys are chillin in the lobby, prolly just getting back from a dope roommate date thing, or Jay Leno again, a beach trip, road trip to Mexico – whatever. It could have been any number of events. And I’m thinking to myself, “What the heck am I doing? Is this worth it? Am I making an impact? Am I throwing my college years away?

The short answer is NO. the long answer entailed countless talks with Cobb over the next four years, him sitting me down, giving me pep talks, getting me out of messes, teaching me principles, loving me for who I was, not allowing me to settle, pushing me to my leadership limits – to name a few. The man taught me vision – he taught me to have vision. I mean, he wasn’t even necessarily a vision guy. But here is the thing… he knew that I WAS a vision guy. And if I didn’t re-learn the vision of our ministry and my calling to ministry and leadership daily, he would have lost me. I can’t imagine what I would be doing had Cobb not been there for me.

So when I get out to see him in MI minimum once a year, or steal some of his much coveted time when he is in Cali, I don’t care what the cost is! Because it costs me thousands of dollars and a ton of “ministry capital.” So, I don’t care what it costs me in time or money or whatever. If I lose that time with my mentor, I can never get that time back. Do you have a mentor you pursue? If not, you are wasting valuable resources. Get on it!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Expect it...

When you are a leader others expect certain stuff from you. I know you may think it is not fair, but hey, no one ever told you (or should have) that it was going to be fair. I have youth guys ask me all the time when they are going to catch a break. I have to laugh. It is different for everyone. You could be the person who has to work their whole life to “catch a break,” whatever that means. Don’t know if you ever read about Colonel Sanders, you know the chicken guy. He was like a million years old when he decided that he thought he could make some pretty bomb chicken. And he was right. But he had to wait his whole life to see it happen. He didn’t even start trying to sling his recipe till he was way in his senior season of life. So I guess I really want to make a couple points here; you prolly won’t want to hear this cause it’s about paying your dues… once again.

The first point is that you have to get out there and prove to the world that you can be the person you know you are. If you are a leader, don’t go out and tell peeps you are. Just go out there and lead. If no one follows you then you are not a leader. But here is the cool part about it. If you keep at it, chances are peeps will believe in you. Remember, you are going to believe in yourself long before others will. This brings me to my next point. If you do not believe in yourself, then you have to find someone who does. There were times when Cobb believed in me way before I thought I could do something. And I guess he really spoke my success into existence. I know, it’s crazy. But it is true. Get all the negative madness out of your life and surround yourself with peeps who believe in you. It will make all the difference in your world. And only then can you make a difference in someone else’s world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Impossibility of time management...

Let me guess… you don’t have enuff time. Well, get over it. I read Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership a million years ago and he put me in my place. He says that there is no such thing as time management. You cannot manage time, cause it never stops. What you do have control over is your priorities. So I ask, what are you priorities? I ask a lot from my ministry teams. I talk to so many youth leaders who say they don’t have enuff time to do this or that. They don’t prepare messages ahead of time (and use the “let the Spirit lead” excuse – which can work once in a great moon), or don’t give proper materials to staff prior to program days, don’t send out the proper communication, etc. All of this is justified in their minds with the terrible notion that they don’t have the time to do it all.

Here you go… quit. You are not cut out for ministry if you cannot prioritize and get stuff done. Your job is no harder than the volunteers who put in 40+ hours into their secular jobs a week, run a family, do extracurricular stuff… and then put an additional 10-15 hours a week into serving on your staff. So, don’t insult their intelligence. Get your priorities straight and get it done. If you don’t work out of a calendar, then that is a good start. Cobb always had his stuff down to the minute. I heard Hybel’s give a talk on the same subject and said that a calendar is a must for pastors.

You are not the special case. Bill Gates has twenty-four hours in a day… and so do you. The thing is, he gets a lot more done than most of us. Figure out what you have to do to maximize your time. You will be amazed how much time you have when you write it all down. And then there is no hiding behind the fact that you watch Dancing with the Stars way too much. You will learn to cut stuff out of your life that is insignificant. Ask someone you trust to look at your calendar – they will tell you where you can trim the fat. And then you will see the changes in your time, ministry, and stress level.

Follow your mentor...

I do a lot of talking to churches and other ministries about how to do stuff. I have pretty good handle on what is right and wrong in a ministry. And it is not that I think that I can do ministry better than others, because I am far from the best. But I have to say that the ministry that I have learned is pretty good. It is not of my own doing. It is all from the peeps who have taught me. About halfway through most of my conversations with pastors and youth leaders, the same question arises… “Who is this Kevin Cobb guy?” inevitably, I have to laugh.

Well, he is the guy who has taught me everything about ministry. Why, cause he’s been doing ministry for his whole life. The guy is like Yoda. Most of my sentences begin with, “Well, Cobb taught me…” And it is true. Even today, just a few minutes of his time is all I really need to keep me on the ministry track. He knows stuff about me that I didn’t know about myself. He knows my heart when I do not. He is a mentor, still to this day, who guides most of my decisions in life – and especially my vocational ministry stuff.

So, who do you have? Recently, one of the guys I talk to about ministry asked a funny question. He was like, do you know anything from your own knowledge, or is it all from Cobb? And the best part about it, was the question was kind of supposed to be a dig at my lack of ability to lead. Awww, the young man will learn. I responded with my own question for him that went something like this, “Are you comfortable knowing that you don’t really know anything and that someone else, or a group of mentors, could teach you about ministry?” I’ll tell you this much… when you find out who you follow, then you are ready to be a leader. I am cool with knowing that I have stolen every single part of my ministry from Kev. Who do you look to for your ministry stuff?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I remember going to a church and the keynote speaker of the conference got up in front of the crowd and immediately turned off his lapel microphone and took it off. He smile and said, “I’ve been known to overpower many a microphone. Can everyone here me ok?” I mean, we really had no choice. No one was going to speak up. It was a huge crowd. And you could prolly figure what happened after that.

The next hour he walked around and every time he had his back toward one part of the crowd, that part of the peeps could not hear. It is inevitable that the guy was going to drop in volume, as most speakers do to drive home a very serious and important point. This guy was no exception. The guy was very articulate and clear in his presentation. But the fact was that he needed the mic like anyone else. I don’t know if he had some insecurity within himself, you know, because there is no hiding behind a microphone. Or he actually was pompous enough to think that he voice was the exception. It was not.

This is the same stuff that you hear peeps do at weddings, corporate events and pretty much everywhere. So let me be the voice in the back of your head next time you face this situation – USE THE MICROPHONE. No one can hear you all the time. The first thing that I do when I get to a church or camp or event to speak is find the sound person. I ask that person if I am going to have a mic. When they tell me that I will prolly not need it, I ask for one anyway. It is better to be safe than sorry. If there is someone on the sound board, he or she will be able to control you from the back. If your voice is too loud, then they will turn it down, and visa versa.

Let this be your warning. And better yet, when you are in the crowd next time and someone asks if everyone can hear them… let your voice be heard as the punk heckler in the back with a resounding, “Turn on the mic!” It’s kinda fun.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Small things...

How often do we overlook the little things. When I did my first couple of camps with Cobb iI had the privilege of shadowing him. The camp consisted of about five hundred peeps, students and staff. And Cobb was the one running the whole thing. Even though he had me and the staff running at a pretty high pace doing a million things at once we knew we had to manage. And no matter what I was doing, he would always make sure to pull me from wherever to watch him make the big decisions, you know, concerning program, discipline issues or even finance stuff.

One of the things that he always did was a written critique of every message that was given by the camp speaker. It was awesome. I had seen him do this while I was in his ministry in high school, but now I was on the staff side of it. Over the first coule of years he would ask me for my comments on his critiques before he gave them to the speaker. And then one day he asked me to do the notes on my own. Now, whether he really wanted me to do it or he just didn't have enough time... the point is that he had me do it. It was actually pretty overwhelming. But Kev knew where I was in my ministry and that I could handle it. He trusted me and I did ok the first time. From that point I continued to do it. And I got better with time.

It was something small, but it was significant and meaningful to me, and I knew that Cobb was looking out for me. He never let me get comfortable. It was stuff like that which allowed me to get better at ministry. So I guess my point is for you not to overlook the small stuff. When you are doing ministry and running hard, you will miss stuff. If you do not have someone who is mentoring you to see the stuff that you cannot, I would suggest that you reach out and make it happen. No one is responsible for your growth as a pastor or youth-worker. But if you get a guy like Cobb then you already have the upper hand. Where do you need to improve? The best places are the ones that are pointed out to you cause you don't even know.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are you boring?

I don’t think some peeps know how boring they really are. You know, rambling on and on with no point or end in sight when they are in front of a crowd. Most of us as speakers have been that person at one time or another in our career as a pastor. Check it out though, if you want to know how good you are for reals, just get in front of a crowd of high-school kids… better yet, I dare you to get in front of a crowd of twenty to three hundred junior highers. They are unmerciful. And I am glad they are. If you suck, for any reason, they will let you know. They have the shortest attention span of any group that I know. Even when I would do some guest speaking for our children’s ministry of fifth graders and below, even they had a reverence because their folks told them that when an adult speaks they need to listen. When you deal with junior highers and above – all that flies out the window.

I have seen too many pastors get up on stage and tell some stupid joke about how they are going to talk for “the next four hours.” This is all good and fine… IF you understand that peeps really do hate someone who is long-winded and does not know when to end a speech. You know, the old “in conclusion” or “I want to leave you with this one thought” kind of stuff. When you use one of those sentences… END! You are not as good as you think you are. When I put my stuff together to speak, I write it all out and then I actually read the entire manuscript, or for those of you who only use any outline – that will do. But then you need to get all of the fluff out. Believe me, you have some of that in your message. Get rid of it.

When I first started speaking to junior high and high school kids I would go over thirty minutes in a message. My thought was that if I had a kid there that may not ever come back, then I need to make sure he or she gets all of Jesus that they possibly can get shoved down their throats. However, I can imagine how many kids never came back because I would not shut up when I needed to. My point… say it – and then shut up. If you don’t know if this pertains to you or not… I dare you to ask your youth group (or your staff). Trust me; they are waiting for you to ask them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't just ask... listen.

I remember when I was in highschool and would spend a ton of time at church. It was one of the only places that made sense to me. I did not go because wanted to get closer to God, but because there were peeps there who cared about me. Kevin was one of those guys. He would come to all of my sporting events, got coffee or lunch or whatever I wanted to do, all of the time. He would call me to roll with him to go do errands or see others in the youth group or church. He did this to spend time investing in me. I never really gave it a thought; I just thought it was cool to chill with him.

We had tons of conversations, mostly about nothing in particular. But I distinctly remember asking him for advice all of the time on everything from girls to God – yeah, worlds apart... but not really, I guess. I'm telling you, I think I can remember maybe two times that he gave me straight answers to my questions. He would never tell me what to do. He never gave me advice in the form of any kind of answer for that matter. What he would do was give me options. I would get done talking for like thirty minutes, telling him every part of my dilemma in like four hundred different ways. Then, I would say something to the effect of, “I don't know, Kev... what do you think?” Silence.

He would just look straight ahead as we drove down the road. I knew he was thinking. And you gotta understand, Kev knew me pretty well. I had spent tons of time with him – at church, extra curricular stuff, his family – and he knew what was going on in that little brain of mine. He knew what I needed to do. He was really good at discerning stuff in my life and those who he knew, both very well and not at all. But still, not answer. He would eventually say something like, “Well, MO, the way I see it you have three options...” He would then proceed to give me those options and then ask me what I thought I should do.

Wait a minute... the reason I was asking in the first place was to get an answer. Kev was supposed to make my life easier by telling me what to do. But, of course in my lack of wisdom, that is not what I needed. Kev knew that I needed to process this stuff on my own. He knew that I already knew what I needed to do. If he would have told me what to do, I would bet I would not do it like nine times out of ten. But, because he made me think about it, and verbalize it myself, I ended up doing the right thing more often than not. And if I did choose the wrong option, one that was detrimental to me in some way or another, I was more aware of it.

Still to this day Kev does not give me that many answers. He makes me think and make decisions based on the information I have. I know a little better now how to process stuff. But I guess the question is whether or not you have one or more peeps in your life who help you through this process. If you do not, I would bet you make more mistakes than if you did have them. I know you may know yourself better than anyone ever could, and that you are too abstract to be understood. And you know what, you are probably right. And if this is true then I would suggest get someone – preferably a full team.

Since my time with with Kev back in the high school group I have added new members to my inner circle. These peeps are the ones who give me options. They know what I need and when I need it. They all have good information. Each of them knows some of who I am, but none of them know all of who I am. That's just the way I do it. You may have one person who knows all of who you are... just make sure that person knows you to the core.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Chaos is where God is most profound. Have you ever been there? I know that for most of my youth ministry career I felt that I was somewhere in this realm. I would think that burnout was evident. I thought this to be true because there were so many pastors around me who were dealing with this. One time I went to a conference with Cobb and one of the other interns. What we didn't know was that the conference was for pastors and their spouses. So, needless to say, we were kind of on the outs because neither I nor the other intern was married, and Cobb did not have his wife there.

There was this one breakout session where half of the pastors sat in a room with half of the spouses – and of course you were not in a group with your own spouse. The session was for the spouses to give their perspective about ministry and what it means to be married to a pastor and doing ministry in that capacity. It was amazing. I have never seen so much emotion in one room. The burnout was evident. There was so much that the pastors were putting onto their spouses, in terms of pressure and expectations. And the most astonishing part was that the pastors, for the most part, did not have much of a clue at all. And these were some good, seasoned pastors – peeps who had been doing ministry for yrears... successfully!

It really opened my eyes. If there is one reason why I need to stay away from burnout its to keep my family sane. When you do not take care of your should then others are going to get hurt. You cannot use the excuse that you are burning out because your job is too stressful or the senior pastor gives you too much to do or whatever. You need to take responsibility of your life and priorities. After witnessing that crazy breakout session I remember talking to Cobb about burnout issues. He has never experienced it. And the reason he stays away from burnout is the relationships he has chosen to have with mentors, the way he spends his time – putting aside time for God and family in the madness of running around, and knowing how to say “no” to stuff that is not within his calling.

Are you close to burnout – or even been close? If so, have your reevaluated to see how you got there. Cobb never let us get to that point while under his care on staff. He knew the signs. I knew that he was there to look out for me and so I guess I pushed the limits of my own sanity at times. Now, with him hundreds of miles away, I still stay far from burnout because I know how to do so. Do you know? If not, who could you ask? It's worth your time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A balancing act...

I can remember my younger years in ministry – man, I was always on “the go.” if there was something to be done, I did it. If there was a task that needed to be finished, hove no fear! If there was some place to be, you could be sure that I would get there, within the appropriate amount of time and with the materials needed to complete whatever needed to be done. And this is what sticks out in my mind. I was away from home much of my early ministry. There were some summers that I would be out of town most of the summer, for speaking engagements, camps, and seminars. I really did not have a choice. I had decided that my priority was to serve others and make sure that our ministry was effective. There were a ton of peeps who relied on me to get stuff done. But, as you could have guessed, this began to take a toll on me.

I was away from home so much that I sometimes forgot my priorities back at the ranch. My family struggled to support me at times because it was taking a lot out of them to encourage someone who was not home very much. They were in this ministry deal a hundred percent as well. They had just as much, if not more, commitment to my ministry as I did. In those early years, as a young pastor, I leaned heavily on the Word of God. Isn't it funny that we get religious when things are not going our way? When the going gets rough and we want to be tough, we always seem to make time for that “God, if you just get me through this...” prayer. And you know what – that is ok. That is what God wants from you. He wants to bless you. He wants to comfort you. He wants to give you the desires of your heart.

Even today, as in those early years as a pastor, I seek that extra little “umph” from the Lord. And you know what, I seem to be asking for it more often. A passage of scripture that I hold on to in times like those says,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).

When you are running around, busy, away from home, and burning that midnight oil all the time – it's good to have something to hold on to. Don't do it by yourself. You gotta get you some good time with God when you can. And those who seek God will be answered.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thinking Chair

I read in John Maxwell’s Thinking for a Change (2003) some years ago that he is very specific about the way he does his thinking. I mean this guy has a process that is crazy. But I guess when you are a national speaker who is on the go all the time you gotta have your madness in line. One of the things that he emphasizes is that of having a thinking chair. He does all of his main thinking in the same place. Now whether that is a chair, swing, table, bathtub, or whatever in your life… you need to have that place.

The place that I do most of my thinking is in the pool. I can swim for a long time and think about absolutely nothing. One of my mentors tells me that I am what I am thinking about when I am not thinking about anything. Wow, get your mind around that, I know. All great peeps, from musicians to teachers and ordinary thugs like you and me have a process that we have to go through. What makes you successful? Where do you find your best thoughts and ideas? Do you write them down?

One of the homies does tons of driving in his bidness and so he does not get to stop a whole lot to just chill and think. This guy is on the road sometimes for like twelve hours at a time. And we all know that when we are starring at the white lines on the road is when we get some good stuff that pops in our heads. For him, he has a voice recorder so that he can pretty much talk to himself. I found this method to be useful in my own life, since I find myself talking to no one in particular much of the time.

The point is that you do not want to miss the good ideas that you have. One of my boys is a comedian and is always looking for good material. He carries a full-on notebook in his back pocket to write stuff down as it comes to him. So, where is your “thinking chair”? Are you consistent in your thinking time? You should be doing this every day. Get one of your peeps to hold you accountable and see what kind of crazy madness you come up with – you’ll surprise yourself… I did, and still do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The rules have changed... again.

I talk to a lot of leaders that get very unhappy about the stuff they have to deal with. They are in an organization where the boss does not really run a fair ship. It seems that they are doing a lot of work that is not theirs. Or they are pulling weight that is not theirs. I know, it sucks. But here is the thing... if you have chosen to be in your particular field at your specific company and you do not like the way that they are doing stuff then you have a couple of choices. The first and most easy is to quit and go somewhere else where you agree with the doctrine and you like the peeps. The other is harder.

The other path you can choose is to accept the rules for what they are and adapt to them. It's like being in a competition or game or whatever. If you find out that the referee sucks then you can either quit or find out what needs to be done in order to win... and then win! It is funny to see how many peeps spend so much time and energy complaining when they just need to accept the rules for what they are and get on it. Life is not fair and there are times when you are going to be thrown down or have it harder than others. Are you going to complain? Or are you going to get it done?

When you are a leader you do not have the luxury of making excuses. The bottom line is that at the end of a deadline or project it is either done or it is not. It is either good or it isn't. You have the choice. A batter who is unhappy with a horrible umpire has the choice to either cry about the strike zone or adapt to it. A good leader will adapt to all situations and make the necessary adjustments to get the job done. We all have the opportunity to go one way or the other. Don't play the part of the victim – no one likes a complainer... play the part of a leader. This will cause others to rise up and reach their potential, and there is nothing better than seeing others succeed.

There are no bad teams

One of my favrit movies is GI Jane because Demi Moore totally tears it up in her quest to become the first woman Navy SEAL. At one point of the movie she is put in charge of her team and is reluctant to take the position. Master Chief John Urgayle responds to her by saying, “ There are no bad crews, only bad leaders.” Pretty much, he told her to suck it up and get the job done. And of course she does. But that quote really stuck out to me. There are to many leaders in organizations that like to blame everyone else besides himself or herself. And what I have to say to that is... suck it up.

When you became the leader of your team you decided to take all of the responsibility and none of the credit. Everything that goes right is because of the peeps on your team and eveything that goes wrong is because you screwed up. And when I say that I mean even if someone on your team did something that was “less than informed” and it is their fault – you better check yourself and realize that ultimately it is a lack of good leadership on your part that let it happen. I know you are gonna say that you did all you could that was in your power and that there was no way that you could prevent it. Whatever it is... it happened and it happened on your watch.

John Wooden (2003) has two sets of three that he lives by and teaches. The first of those is “Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses.” so check this out. If you expect your team to perform at the highest level then you have to first do it yourself. When you give yourself the OK to violate any of those principles then you are giving your team licence to do the same but at a much worse level. When you become a leader you automatically accept responsibility. So stop blaming others and get the job done.

Listen Intently...

Cobb rolled into town this past week and was all over the place doing stuff with all the peeps. I don't know anyone who is more intentional than him. We were supposed to connect. I had tons of stuff going on and it looked as if we were not going to make it happen. He hit me up on Twitter the nite before he was going to peace out back to MI and was like, “hey are we going to connect?” then I realized the opportunity that I was going to miss. We ended up getting together the following nite.

Here is the thing though. I know that his last nite in town was going to be a time for family, you know, for goodbyes and stuff. I begin this blog by expressing how honored I feel that he would include me in that time. You see, Cobb has always been one to seek others out who he thought had potential. I am one of those peeps. For more on mentoring and why you need to find a mentor you should check out my homies blog on this subject ( In that blog, Lem talks about how there are a select few mentors who actually seek others to give time to and add value. Have you been lucky enough to be one of those peeps? If you are, then you really need to take advantage of that time and respect and honor the time that you receive from that mentor in your life.

When I was out with Cobb the other nite my leadership radar was up and ready. I knew that I only had a certain amount of time with him and that I was not sure when I was going to see him next. I was very intentional with the questions that I asked. I wanted to gain wisdom and insight into ministry and life and I know that he was willing to give it – he is always willing to give advice to those who will listen. And after many years of shedding my pompous “I am the man” atttude, I am slowly beginning to learng what it means to move my leadership to the next level by listening to guys like Cobb.

So the question is, are you listening? And you seeking out a mentor who can speak into you life? And if someone is seeking you out because he or she sees potential in you, take what you can get. You will speed up your journey toward being a leader.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Listen, dummy!

For reals I do not understand why Cobb put up with me all those years. It's like a coach getting a brand new team or a music instructor a new student that has no idea what they are doing; the teach is in for a long ride. And that is the relationship that I had with this man, one of the most respected in my inner circle. It took years for me to get where I am in my ideas, thoughts and ministry tendencies, but alas I am here. The journey began when I was in high school and did not know why JC would want to have a relationship with a punk like me. It was Cobb who put in the time to convey that yearning on the part of a Savior who wanted to give me a chance.

David Schwartz writes, “Big people monopolize the listening.” and this is the way that Cobb was with me. I was always in some big idea, a way to make my life better. And I always brought it to him. We would sit for hours at a time over a cup of coffee, at his house, his office – wherever we were at that particular moment – and I would tell him the details of my life. Funny thing is that I did not ask for advice very much in the early years. But that is the kind of guy that Cobb was and still is today. He has always been one of those “big people.”

I write this because it is my hope that you have those kind of people in your life. The persons who will ask questions, not for the sake of stumping you or making you feel dumb or whatever. But for the sole purpose of getting to know you better. These are the peeps that you want in your inner circle. These are the peeps that are going to make a difference in your life. They are the ones that will know understand how you work, because the more they listen to your rambling over time the more they will be able to speak into your life.

Cobb has always been one reluctant to give advice to me. Not because he did not know what I needed. Believe me, he knows me enuff to point me in the right direction. But he also knows that a stubborn punk like me needs to be nurtured. Hey, at least I have come from the days of not thinking tat I needed advice of any sort. I was on top of the world as a teenager. My ideas were invincible, or so I thought. Today I am a lot more humble, though sometimes it may not seem to others or even myself. But there is something about talking to someone who knows you to the core of your being. When someone knows your joys, fears, struggles, strengths and everything in between, you start of listen.

Who do you have in your life that knows you in that way? Think of the person or persons who listen to you most. The ones who are not quick to judge you or tell you what you need to do. These are the persons who are listening to you and want to know you on a deeper level. These mentors, and in many instances your peers, have the capacity to speak into your life. And if they are anything like Cobb, you will have to drag it out of them. They know you. Listen to them and hang on the words they offer. They are few... but powerful.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The things you do...

We all have them; you know what I mean. Those events that we hate to do but we do them because we know that the students love them. And since we live in the greatest state in the world, California, it means that the beach is always just a hop skip and a jump away. And one of the most favrit days for the world to go to the beach is the Fourth of July. I mean, we are talking straight up chaos. There is so much madness going on at any each that you are bound to have fun and prolly get in trouble at the same time.

If you have never been to the beach on Independence Day, you really must do it at least once. And for me, once was enough, but I somehow got suckered into going more than my quota-filling one time. There are so many peeps there that there is absolutely no parking, everyone sneaks in fireworks and booze and anything else you can think of. There is so much that can go wrong because all of the peeps are not paying attention for anything. However, the excitement of being there is off the hook. The kids always have a great time. They are away from the folks, they feel like they have freedom and it is just a downright good time. And that is why you have to be extra careful.

We would leave early in the morning to get there and try to stake out a place on the beach. There were fireworks shows all over the place and you were bound to have a great seat no matter where you were on the beach. The fuzz is all over the place just itching to give out ticket for anything. When we get down there and take accountability and give out the rules, stuff always changes. There is always some unforeseen circumstance that we would have to deal with. Like one year when we were there and there was not a bathroom in a square mile because someone had blown up the one closest to us with M1000's. Yeah, way to be mature. It was hilarious, I must say. But stuff like that.

By the time the day was over I was ready to roll and get anywhere but there. And I would vow to myself as I hit the pillow that I would never do it again. But come the next weekend and all the talk about how much fun everyone had, how could I resist? How could I say no to fun and relationships? How could I say no to ministry? You are right, I couldn't – what at push-over. What is the event you despise the most in your ministry, the one that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck just thinking of all the prep and turmoil that it will put you through each time – yet, knowing that it is the best event that you put on, one that the kids love? My advice, keep doing it. Suck it up and just remember that you can always look back years later and say, “ahhh, the things I did for ministry opportunities...” Funniest part is, you will always have those events... good luck.

The wrong stuff?

I talk to youth pastors a lot about trusting your instinct and knowing what it means to run a good program. Although tons of peeps that I talk to nowadays think that program is dead and that we need to move in a different direction, I am a firm believer that if you run a bad program then you are going to have a hard time achieving a successful youth program. And I know that this is very subjective, but most philosophy is; I think anyway. Just remember that in all of your infinite, God-given wisdom, you could actually be wrong ever now and again. I know, I know, crazy but true.

I know that you have the pulse of your group and that you prolly do a great job in your ministry. I hope that you are giving tons of time to your students, but more to the peeps that put time into them on a daily basis. You know, the leaders in your ministry. The volunteers that give up a bunch of their free time to spend putting into the youth of today, building into the leaders of tomorrow. And since they are with the students so much, you need to listen to your volunteer staff.

If you are like many of the pastors I chill with, you have a full plate. There are things in your schedule that make your ministry difficult to keep up with and you need all the help you can get. And this is why the input you get from your staff is so important. When one of my peeps would come up to me to discuss an issue that s/he felt was important, in my younger days I would listen, but not really. This was the absolute worst thing I could have done. Just because I was the guy with the title did not make me the one with the best ideas all of the time. Yes, I think I had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done and I was very intuitive, but the stuff that was brought to my attention from others was equally important.

Had I listened to the suggestions of my staff back then I would have saved myself a lot of time. I had to learn to listen. Timing issues, themes, concerns, series suggestions, program glitches; these were all problems that I faced on a weekly basis and could have used the help that was right in front of me. Are you listening to your staff? Do you value their input? There are peeps that know ministry as well and many even better than you. They are there to help. They want the youth program to succeed just as much as you do. Listen to them, you would be wise to add their counsel to your decision-making process.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Train yourself, or else...

I know this may be shocking to a lot of peeps, but if you don't take the time to train yourself then you are going to be out of ministry sooner or later. And it is up to you. No one else is going to take the time to do it because they have their own stuff to worry about. They have lives and barely have the time to do stuff for themselves. The problem for you is that you have to worry about you and your staff at the same time. When others decide to do ministry with you and buy into your vision to put time into the students in your group, they are your responsibility. And if you don't want to have them on your team or do not believe in them or whatever, then they do not need to be on your team.

You have to give your peeps time. If you choose to have them on your team, then no excuses. When we were a smaller group and it was hard to get leaders for the kids, we were willing to take anyone at all. We just wanted warm bodies. A lot of you may be in the same situation. And if you are at the mercy of anyone who will give you their time then you have an obligation to them. And you have to give them your all. And that is why you need to be training yourself.

Good book to start with... Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Yeah, I know. This is a pretty straight forward book. And when it was suggested to me I was like, ok, I don't think I really need to read something like that. And that is exactly why I needed it. The stuff was so simple and easy, but so much of it I was not doing. Even the beest peeps in the world need help and the best leaders are constantly learning. Are you? If you are not reading till your eyes hurt then I would suggest that you carve out a little time to do so.

Train yourself or your peeps will end up leaving your team. When they know that you are not growing anymore they will peace out. They may not even know why they are leaving, but they will. I expect my staff to read and listen to stuff and put time into their own development. And the reason that they are willing to do so is that they know that I am always trying to do what it takes to get better at what I do.

I am not that good. None of us are. And that is why we need to continually stay on the cutting edge in our learning curve and training. If you devote yourself to making yourself better each day then you give yourself a better chance of adding value to others. And isn't that what ministry is all about? Do your best and never stop learning. Train yourself and always do more than your staff will. Let them know that you are serious about growth in your group and in each of their lives personally. It will benefit your ministry a ton.

Friday, January 8, 2010

You gotta' ask...

I was out jogging the other day and rolling through some of the neighborhoods to give me some scenery. And when I run I do not like to stay on the sidewalks because it is harder on your bones; and this old man needs all the help he can get. So, I run on the street asphalt to give me a little help in enduring the madness. But as you can imagine, this puts me in a better position of getting run over by vehicles – a chance I am willing to take, I guess. So, yeah, I am on my way and all of the sudden I can hear this truck race up behind me pull up next to me. I was thinking, oh man, i'm about to get an earful fro this guy. And then I hear a jovial voice, and as I look to my left, it is the dad of one of my former students. I have not seen this guy or his son in years, since his kid had graduated high school.

He got out of his truck and we proceeded to chat for like forty-five minutes right there on the side of the road. We were laughing so hard about all the stuff that we used to do together in ministry. This dad was one of the guys who you never would have thought would ever help out in ministry. Not because he did not want to, but because he had and still has one of the busiest schedules I have ever heard of. But it just so happened that this guy helped us out with one of our all-niters that we had for the sophomore boys. We were down a driver and needed to get one fast or else it was really going to screw up our toilet-papering escapade. And this kid was like, “Hey, I know my dad is off for a couple of days... maybe he will drive.” We called, he rolled over, and the rest is history.

Although I had known this dad for a some years before because he and his family had been members of the church for a long time, I never thought to ever ask him to be a part of stuff because he did not look to me like the type of guy who would want to spend what little free time he had with a bunch of students. I was wrong. That nite he had the best time and all the boys thought he was the coolest dad in the world. He even helped in the festivities. At the end of the nite he told me that whenever I needed his help to call him. Those are the sweetest words that any youth pastor can ever hear. And so I took him up on his offer.

Over the next few years he was one of the stalwarts in our ministry. He was the dad that put in tons of time on and off campus with our group. He had a great time, always. And when the peeps were around him, they loved it! This guy was a diamond in the rough. I would have never known. I would have never have asked him. And I would have missed out on tons of ministry with a guy who is still a blessing to me. That is the stuff that we talked about on the side of the road the other day. He went on and on about how appreciative he was of me and our staff at church for putting time into his family. I was humbled.

For a guy like him to feel like our team gave to him and not the other way around was incredible. He was thankful to be a part of our activities and on the parental staff. I was shocked. And I know I should not have been, but I always am. I don't know what I would have done without this dad and the time, effort and love that he put into our ministry. God is good. I realized after that first time that he helped us drive for the guys nite out that I needed only to ask more. I needed to be proactive with the parents in our ministry. And as I expected, there were many others who were just waiting to be asked.

Some know it and some do not. The peeps who will spend time in your ministry volunteering are waiting for you a lot of the time. You are the leader and they know that you have a plan, or that you should. Involve as many in the proces as possible. There ware some superstar peeps who are just waiting for an invitation. When is your next event? Who are the peeps you have been meaning to call to spend time in your ministry? Give them a call, you may be pleasantly surprised.