November 17, 2014

Why You Need a Coach

Coaching can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Once upon a time, there was a stigma attached to getting help. It was seen as a badge of strength to suck it up and get it done on your own. That's not the case anymore.

But now people across various industries, from various walks of life, are realizing that they can make huge strides with a little help from a coach.

Sometimes working harder isn't the answer. If you're working harder on the wrong things, then you won't make the progress you're hoping for. That's part of the idea behind Shane Snow's book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.

In the book, Snow identifies a few tactics that can help people get ahead. One of those tactics is to get a mentor, or coach.

Using Jimmy Fallon, Louis C. K., and Justin Bieber as examples, Snow observes:
"Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest profile achievers throughout history."
But entertainers aren't the only ones who can be helped by coaches. He concludes:
"Data indicates that those who train with successful people who have been there tend to achieve success faster."
If you're leading in student ministry, you need a coach. You need someone who has walked the road you're walking. You need someone to encourage, challenge, inspire, and help you do the best job you can do.

I'd love to be that for you. CLICK HERE to begin that conversation.

In the meantime, I have a question:
What do you need the most help with right now?

Leave your answer in the comments.

December 1, 2013

Onesiphorus & Youth Ministry

I want to share about a guy that few people know about.
He's mentioned by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:16, and his name is Onesiphorus.

Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains" (NLT). That's pretty much all we hear about this guy.

We don't know if he was young or old.
We don't know if he was rich or poor.
We just know that he was important to Paul.

But I've never come across any Bible study that mentions Onesiphorus.
Any time I set out to find Bible study curriculum for students, I'm faced with the usual suspects:
There's Noah, who built a boat (now he even gets a movie with Russell Crowe playing his part!).
There's Daniel, who rose to rockstar status during the Babylonian exile.
There's Esther, who stood strong (like Katniss Everdeen) in the face of the Capitol.
There's Peter, who followed Jesus but kept messing up.
There's even Barnabas, the encourager who travelled with Paul to share the gospel in far-off places.

But no one besides Paul mentions Onesiphorus. There's just nothing glamorous about him.
But when Paul mentions him here, he recognizes him for a simple thing.
It's something so simple that any of us can do it, pretty much everyday.

He didn't recognize him for being the best speaker, or giving the most money, or getting everything exactly right. Paul recognizes Onesiphorus for visiting him and encouraging him.

That makes sense because, as I think about my life and my faith so far, it wasn't the lights or the cameras or the action that kept me close to Christ; it was the kind gestures that came from people at just the right time.

As a new Christian, some guys invited me to on a road trip to see a Matt Redman show. In college, a guy from my church back home sent me a text message every Friday morning that just said, "I'm praying for you. Let me know if I can do anything for you." In ministry, a parent will send an email that says, "Thank you for making a difference in my son's life."

Those are kind gestures that came from people at just the right time for me, and those are the things that have kept me close to Christ through the years. And that's what I picture Onesiphorus doing for Paul as he went to visit him and encourage him again and again.

As you're working - week in and week out - in your church, don't give in to the temptation to rely on talent and technology. If you do that, you'll be done when the church up the road gets better talent and newer technology. You've got to think beyond the stage.

We've got to be intentional about doing the things that build relationships and community. And I think that includes visiting people and encouraging people wherever they're at, each step of the way, because we never know when one of the students in our ministries will think back on their faith and remember a kind gesture that we made for them at just the right time.

Think about Onesiphorus this week, and then pick out a few students to visit and encourage.

Related Posts:
Hypocrites in the Church

November 20, 2013

Words that Wound

I coached a youth baseball team a few years ago. We had a decent group of young players, but there were a few parents whose words to their kids were downright cruel. On more than one occasion, I wanted to pull those overzealous dads to the side and remind them that even though our team had "Braves" on the jerseys we weren't the Atlanta Braves!

For many students, student ministry leaders are a voice of truth and authority. When we say encouraging things to them about who they are and who they are becoming, they believe us. But the opposite is also true: when we say discouraging things to them about who they are and who they are becoming, they believe us.

So I want to point out 3 kinds of words that ministry leaders should avoid:

1) Sarcastic Words
Sarcasm offers cut-downs in the form of praise. "Good job, Sherlock" sounds like a compliment, but sarcasm is usually evidenced by the tone with which the words are said. So the student knows you are actually insulting them even though you are (seemingly) complimenting them. It just seems to me that students are drenched in sarcasm from their peers at school. Their encounters with us should be different. Instead, do what Charles Schwab (and Dale Carnegie) counseled: "Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."

2) Unsupportive Words
Students want to feel like you're cheering them on, not rooting for them to fail. When we say things like, "You'll never be able to do that," or "That's the worst idea ever," it definitely doesn't strengthen the relationship we're building. Instead, offer support and encouragement to the person. If their idea(s) need some tweaking, perhaps you could say, "That's a pretty good thought. Maybe it would be better if..."

3) Comparing Words
It's not a good idea to ask, "Why can't you be more like...?" The answer is, of course, because that person is that person, and this person is this person. Comparing people is just not a helpful thing to do. Instead, emphasize the person's strengths and inspire him/her to live them out in ways that are uniquely their own.

Can you think of other kinds of words that we should avoid?

Related Posts:
The Power of Words
It's Just a Game: Addressing Dad's & Athletes

October 23, 2013

Minute to Win It Game Night

When you're working with students week after week, sometimes you just need to plan a night of fun. Maybe you've thought about doing one. Or maybe you could do a combined Friday Fun Night or something that includes parents and their kids. Either way, Minute to Win It games are the easiest, hassle-free option to make the night a success.

It will take you a good bit of time to scroll through the list of Minute to Win It blueprints on YouTube or on NBC's website. So I've gone ahead and done the hard work for you. Here's a list of games and supplies that you can use to have a little fun with your students.

Game: Tilt-a-Cup (1 person)
Supplies: 8 Solo Cups, 6 Ping Pong Balls (or bouncy balls)
How-To: Player begins with stack of 8 solo cups. He/she bounces a ball and tries to catch it in the top of the cup. The first one is easy. But then the player must take that cup from the top of the stack and move it to the bottom of the stack. Each time he/she catches a ball and moves the cup to the bottom, the stack will begin to lean and wobble, making it harder and harder to catch the bouncing ball.

Game: Keep It Up (1 person or 2 people)
Supplies: 3 balloons blown up with breath, not helium
How-To: Player tosses all 3 balloons in the air, and must keep all of them off of the ground for a full 60 seconds.

Game: Hut, Hut, Hike (6 people)
Supplies: 2 Hula Hoops, 24 rolls of toilet paper
How-To: Players long-snap rolls of toilet paper through a hula hoop that is being held by their partner who is 15 feet away. A third teammate is a person retrieving the toilet paper for the person hiking it to use again.

Game: Dizzy Mummy (2 people)
Supplies: 1 roll of toilet paper
How-To: Player 1 tries to wrap Player 2 with a full roll of toilet paper in 60 seconds.

Game: Roll with It (3 people)
Supplies: 2 rolls of toilet paper
How-To: Two people each hold a roll of toilet paper in their fingers to let it spool off like a toilet paper holder at your house. The third person swings their arms to empty each of the rolls.

Game: Candalier (1 person)
Supplies: 5 paper plates, 15 empty soda cans
How-To: Build a 5-story inverted pyramid using the plates to separate each story.

Game: Egg Roll (2 people)
Supplies: 2 empty pizza boxes, 4 eggs, 1 stick of Sidewalk Chalk
How-To: Each player uses a pizza box to try to get the eggs into a circle that is 15 feet away, drawn on the floor with Sidewalk Chalk.

Game: Face the Cookie (1 person)
Supplies: 1 cookie
How-To: Player begins with cookie on forehead. He/she must move it to to his/her mouth without using their hands.

Game: Separation Anxiety (1 person)
Supplies: 1 pack of M&M's, 6 cups
How-To: Player must separate the M&M's by color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and brown).

Game: Ready Spaghetti (2 people)
Supplies: 2 spaghetti noodles, 2 tables, 6 empty soda cans (with tabs lifted up)
How-To: Each player puts the noodle in their mouth, and uses it to slide through the tab of an empty soda can. When they've got the can lifted, they must be a pyramid on the other table (3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, and 1 on top). *They might have to use their hands to lower the tabs after the can has been placed on the other table