Wednesday, January 14, 2015

To Program or Not to Program Continued...

You ever feel like your running around all crazy and confused, but accomplishing nothing?

  This week we have youth, small groups, snow trips, service projects, and more.  It seems like each week I am sitting in my office planning rather than doing.  All these deadlines and programs hold me hostage to my small box of an office.  Whoops I missed another deadline, lets hurry up to see if I can make a dent in this never ending pile of doom. :)  Yup, my week often sounds like that, it's called ministry.  This flexible  gooey thing that never lets go.  

Time to scrape off the residue and actually get something done.  Couple things can help....
Artificial Deadlines
Structured Time

Ok deadlines aren't very sexy but they do give you more freedom to do what you were called to do, love on students.  Yes deadlines, I know you already have enough for a lifetime.  Each year I sit down for a couple days and plan the whole year...  Will I do all that I planned... well... uhh... Uhhh probably not.  Then every 3 months I will revisit that calendar to see if I'm track or waaaaaaaay off base.  Planning ahead lets me evaluate whether I put too much on my plate, if things could be distributed to others, and it gives me the power to say no.  I already know I have X amount of events this month and I can say no without feeling guilty.  I ask the person/staff to weigh what is more important, what they are handing me or what is already planned.  That then puts the pressure on them rather than oneself.

As I use my crystal ball to look towards the future I begin to set artificial deadlines.  Artificial deadlines are like the force in star wars.  You can't see it, but ya know it's there.  No one who will hold you to those deadlines except yourself! Artificial deadlines allow me to accomplish that plan we initially set out at the beginning of the year.  I create dedicated time each week to work on my projects and get them done ahead of time.  As the event, program, or activity draws near I can spend more time with students and less time running around.

Structures are important.  They are the foundation to our society.  Structures hold up buildings, they create places for people to live and gather.  Likewise, structured time is like the building block of your life.  It's a time each week you carve out to work on specific tasks.  It's a time where meetings, phone calls, and emails disappear.  It's a short window where you become more efficient because of the limited time you have to work on that project.   It's not to say you wont get urgent things pop up from time to time, but its a time each week your dedicated to working on what's most important at that time.  When I dedicate structured time for sermons, program development, admin stuff, and etc I realized that I have more time to spend with students, not less.

It's important to consistently reevalute what your doing.  If I can't meet my artificial deadlines on a regular basis then I have too much.  If my structured time is disappearing each week then I have too much.  If I'm spending less and less time with students then I have too much.  The relations you build are always going to produce more fruit than the programs you develop.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Joy in Trials

Joy is a choice we choose to make, a choice we decide on how to respond to what is going on around us.  Joy is not fleeting or fluctuating like happiness. Joy does not come and go, it's a decision that one makes that no matter what is going on in their life they will live with Joy.  Joy is intentionally going into life and looking at what is positive within it.  That doesn't mean one can't complain if something bad happens or be upset from time to time because Joy isn't a false state of being. Joy is discovering that their is more to life than what is presently going on.  That even when life is going bad there are things to celebrate.  Joy is about understanding that money and material items will come and go, but that there is something far greater at play than any of those items can provide.  When a person lives with Joy their life and those around them radically changes because it's no longer about what makes me happy this moment, it's a about the journey instead of the brief moment.  One can be joyful in good and bad times because the outside circumstances will not affect how you will respond to life.

This last week a youth shared about their life in HS youth.  They shared how they had a lot of brokenness in the their past including moving away from their real parents.  What is amazing about the story the youth shared is the Joy they have found despite their situation.  They did not blame or judge their "natural" parents for what had happen.  They accepted as it was and celebrated what good came out of it.  Where they are today not only changed their life, but also their "adoptive" parents.  There wasn't resent or anger, but a great Joy in being able to be where they are today.  As the youth was sharing their "natural" mom text them saying I am thinking of you.

When we live a life of joy our life is radically changed and it affects those around us even if they are far away.  People can sense joy because Joy is contagious.  Joy uplifts and transforms.  Joy celebrates all that is Good.  As I write this I'm listening to For My Good by Trip Lee which exudes Joy in the song.  So may you live with Joy!