Friday, November 16, 2012

How to BE Mentored (Part 3)

This is the last post of my ramblings on How to Be Mentored. I am so incredibly grateful for the people who have invested in my life. Some of those have been very intentional and others have mentored me in passing but regardless of the intention, I appreciate the opportunity to learn from those who have gone before me. Okay so just a few more bullet points on how we can be better at following well...

1. Give them permission - Sometimes people don't know that they have permission to speak into your life and you need to verbally tell them that you want them to have a voice in your life. This often requires humility on our end. For me, this usually comes in the form of asking them good questions which is the next point.

2. Ask good questions - This will keep you from talking the whole time. Some of my favorite questions:
     -As a young leader, what do I need to be valuing most?
     -What were the most transformational moments in your life?
     -How have you found ways to redeem your competitive strength?
     -Is there anything you do to intentionally lead yourself well?
     -How do you make sure your not sacrificing your own growth for the growth of the team?
     -What books have been most transformational for you?
     -What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were a 20something?

3. Crave a word from God more than you crave a word from your mentor - I love what Heather Zempel says, "The people whose voices are loudest in my life need to be the ones most impacted by the voice of the Holy Spirit." But with that said, don't get so caught up in listening to the voices around you that you don't take time to listen to the voice of God for yourself.

4. Be a mentor - This is what it's all about. I am pretty confident that the more you invest in other people, the more people will invest in you. Capture what you're learning, make it your own, then pass it on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to BE Mentored (Part 2)

Last week I posted about the importance of identifying the voices in your life and then maximizing them for learning opportunities. I want to continue with some more things I'm learning when it comes to following well, being mentored, and embracing the life of a young leader. These are all things that have ben passed down to me that I'm constantly needing to be reminded of on a sometimes daily basis.

1. Know the importance of timing - Be sensitive to the rhythm of your leader. Sometimes it's best to schedule time for the long or hard conversations to make sure you are both fully present mentally and emotionally. I learned this one the hard way. I had an extremely hard and sensitive conversation with my mentor...on his birthday! I think it's easy to blur the boundaries with the people that have opened their life up to you and sometimes that leads to bad timing on our part. So be aware of their calendar and look for the right opportunities to barge in.

2. Never underestimate a connection - When someone introduces you to someone, consider it a compliment. Follow through on the opportunity to learn from someone new. I've been surprised how often those relationships work for good. Everyone gains success with the help of others. Failure to realize that leads to false pride. Don't feel bad or shy away from using the connections and networking relationships you've been able to build.

3. Be a team player - Be the encourager and positive influence to those on the team. Look for ways to add value to the people around you. Don't just be another meeting on their calendar. Instead, come alongside them and add value to what they are already doing.

4. Be faithful with little - Demonstrate in the small and unimportant tasks the characteristics you will have in the large and important tasks. Be teachable, patient, humble, moldable and grateful. Recognize that most things of lasting value take time and discipline to achieve, so be faithful in the process.

5. Write everything down - Be just short of annoying on capturing the things you are taught. It helps you remember, and it also communicates that you care. I have a leadership journal that is full of what I have taken away from certain situations- what was done well, what I would have done differently, what I wanted to take away from how the leader handled it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to BE Mentored (Part 1)

I would argue that learning to follow is just as important as learning to lead. Better put by Oswald Sanders, "Many who aspire to leadership fail because they never learned to follow." There is a lot of information out there on how to be a good mentor- how to disciple, coach, train, guide, and direct. But over the past year, I have learned some valuable lessons about following well. I'm certainly not good at all of these yet, but I know I need to be in order to maximize the voices in my life. Over the next week, I will devote 3 posts to the other side of the mentoring equation- how to be mentored.

1. Identify the voices in your life - As young leaders, we all want to have someone investing in us. It can be challenging to find someone that is willing to mentor you. But I guarantee you that you already have people mentoring you, you just didn't realize it. Maybe this question will help you identify a couple people...whose voice is loud in your ears? In other words, when this person talks, you listen. When they give advice, you tend to heed it.

2. Assume a learning posture - Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I have never met a man that was not my superior in some particular.” In other words, each person we meet has the potential to teach us something. Make learning your passion and look for the lesson in every situation. Approach every situation as an opportunity to learn. Learn from people. Learn from blogs. Learn from books. Learn from experiences. Learn from failures. Learn from successes.

3. Take initiative - I have never asked someone, "will you be my mentor?" because I think that is a little awkward. But I have asked countless people to set aside an hour for coffee with me. I think the best mentoring relationships happen organically and out of existing relationships, but they usually require some initiative. Take it. Look for projects and relationships that will be beneficial for you. Projects give you opportunities to invest and exercise your gifts. Relationships give you opportunities to evaluate and develop your gifts.

4. Recognize that it's more about developing character than gaining influence - Find the people that will help you set you character compass. Surround yourself with people that are valuing the right things. It's important that you grow in your gifts, but it's more important that you grow in your character.

5. Diversify the voices in your life - I think sometimes we look for that ONE person that will dump all of their knowledge, wisdom, and experience on us and then we will be complete. This is dangerous. I would encourage you to cross-pollinate. Don't just learn from people with the same gifts as you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mission is a Movement - Greece

A mission is a movement. Ordinary people empowered by God's Spirit doing what Jesus did, together, wherever they are. That's our heart for missions... locally and globally. And at NCC, we are committed to to be a part of what God is doing in our backyard and around the world.

We just rolled out our trips for the upcoming year. 25 trips are being sent out to address poverty by assisting the poor, address disease by caring for the sick, and address brokenness though transformative reconciliation. I am really excited to be leading a team with Heather Zempel to Thessaloniki, Greece in October 2013. For a third year in a row, we will partner with The A21 Campaign, as they fight to abolish slavery in the 21st century.

Human trafficking is one of the those things that automatically gets your attention. And once you give it attention, it captures your heart. While in Greece, we will have the opportunity to download a lot of information from the A21 team. They will talk about the sickening $32 billion industry of trafficking and what they are doing to put an end to it. We will also travel across the border to Bulgaria to witness the conditions many of the girls are being trafficked out of and experience the ease of crossing the border back into Greece. But more than anything, we will be empowered to take the information and do something about it once we get home. A team member from a previous trip put it best by saying, "our mission starts when we get home." We will also partner with iHeart Cafe, a local coffeehouse committed to seeing the church and community intersect. In addition to our time in Thessaloniki, we will explore biblical history in the lands of Paul's missionary journeys in Philippi, Corinth, and Athens.

If you are interested in joining Heather and I in Greece next year, email me at for more information.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Life of a Protege. Not Just Developing Skills.

This time last year I was starting my application process to the Protege Program at National Community Church. I knew that I needed to enter a season where I could step back from a leadership role and enter into a season of very intentional growth- spiritually, personally, and theologically. The Protege Program is a year long internship that equips young leaders for full-time ministry. It's not just about developing skills, it's about developing character. Here are some things I've learned and experienced this year...

Character is a precursor to calling. Choose integrity. Choose humility. Choose honor. Before I'm ready to step into the calling that God has for my life, I need to have the character to sustain it. I never want my influence to reach farther than my character can handle.

Protege has offered a safe place for me to grow. I've had permission to ask lots of questions and these questions have forced me into the presence of God. Some blind-spots have been revealed and nurtured. I've wrestled with theological issues. But more than anything, I've been encouraged to walk away worshipping God more deeply and loving Him more passionately.

I've learned about the character and ways of God. I desire so much more to seek out His heart instead of constantly wanting His hand. I realized that the more I get into His presence, the more I learn about His character.

I've been affirmed in my gifts and even been given opportunities to exercise them. Some things I've been able to do include... write our first New Testament Survey curriculum, produce our annual Leadership Retreat, assist with sermon prep for weekend messages, teach at Leadership Summit, help design and publish our small group directory, administer Alpha course, redesign and organize Easter baptism service, produce Good Friday services, preach at Uprising (our student ministry), and tons of other things that have helped me grow both as a leader and follower of Christ.

It has been incredible to be a part of such an amazing team that is FOR each other. It has been so much fun doing life and ministry with the NCC staff. They are incredibly gifted and passionate about their specific callings but so generous to serve the callings of the people around them. DOn't get me wrong, we have personality conflicts, but there is such a deep culture of honor among our staff that goes so much further than personality. I love our team!

In our protege huddles (led by Heather Zempel or Mark Batterson), we have talked about how to be mentored, leadership rhythms, the importance of teams, values, leading yourself well, and establishing goals. This is a precious time that all 7 of us are together to process and grow as ministry leaders. I've loved getting to learn alongside of Ashleigh, Sunshine, Elissa, Aaron, Andy, and TJ.

I have been able to be a part of the ridiculousness that is happening at National Community Church. Seriously. Wow. God is moving in such a powerful way here. It's crazy to think about the favor that we have experienced in the last 8 months.  I have learned so much just by watching the way Pastor Mark stewards the influence that has been given to both him and our church.

And... I've had A LOT of fun. I mean come on... just look at my pictures on Facebook. So. Much. Fun.

What an experience. I've grown through successes and failures. I've been stretched to the point of frustration. But it has all been worth it.

If you are interested in the Protege program, I would encourage you to check out more info and download an application here. Applications are due on May 25th, 2012 for the next Protege year (Sept 2012-August 2013).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Following at a Distance

Peter had been by Jesus' side for 3 years. He was in Jesus' inner circle. He seemingly had barely been apart from Jesus during his ministry.

But on the journey to the cross Peter followed Jesus at a distance. We read in Luke 22:54, "So they arrested (Jesus) and led him to the high priest's home. And Peter followed at a distance."

I think we are all tempted to follow Jesus at a distance. We are close enough to where we can see Him, but far enough away that it doesn't affect the way we live. I'm learning that our obedience is closely related to our proximity to Jesus. Temptations are much stronger when we are following Him at a distance.

Peter was in that land of in between. But at least he was there. Scripture doesn't record any of the other disciple's support for Jesus during this time (other than John who shows up at the cross). Are you living in that same land? Close enough to see Jesus but far enough away that you don't have to associate yourself with Him?

Pastor Mark said something a few weeks ago that really hit home with me... He said, "We are often too Christian to enjoy sin, but too sinful to enjoy Christ." That's what we experience when we follow at a distance.

Put yourself in proximity to Jesus. And follow Him closely. It's worth it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doubt: An Invitation

"Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty" -Father Flynn in the opening scene of the play Doubt.

We often deal with doubt in an unhealthy way... a way that leaves us empty and questioning our faith. But I'm learning that there is a healthy way to face our doubts. I'm learning to deal with my doubt in a way that reveals His character, postures me in His presence, and deepens my faith. I'm learning to see it as an opportunity to bond with God in a powerful and sustaining way.

If you are familiar with Thomas from Scripture at all, you probably know him for his moment of doubt. He is even often known as "Doubting Thomas."

We know Thomas for his doubt. I think Jesus knows Thomas for his faith.

In John 11, when all the other disciples were scared to accompany Jesus back to Judea for fear the Jews would kill them... Thomas spoke up and said "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). Thomas had a desire to be in the presence of Jesus. He was committed.

Then in John 14, Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them. Jesus tells them he will come back and take them with him...that they will know where he is going. Thomas pipes up and says, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (John 14:5)

Thomas once again longed for Jesus' presence.

Then there is the infamous "Doubting Thomas" moment. Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to most of the disciples, but Thomas missed out on the experience.

"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
   But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-25)

So, yeah, Thomas doubted. But as we read in the next few verses that doubt led Him into the presence of Jesus. He put his fingers where the nails were. And he believed. He proclaimed Jesus as Lord. Thomas allowed his doubts to force him into a deeper faith.

What are your doubts right now? Don't let those doubts make you wander away from your faith. See them as an invitation into His presence... an invitation to uncover His character.