Showing posts from 2012

Living what you value

This is one of the most difficult questions that I face as both a parent and a pastor: How do I ensure that I am living what I say that I value? My life is flooded with countless decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. Some of these decisions have a direct impact on what I say my values are, while others are only indirectly related to my value system. The tension that I experience is with regards to consistency or balance in living from this value system. No, this post isn't going to turn into a broad spectrum confessional time, but I will share some thoughts about how this is beginning to reshape my thoughts around what it means to value something.

As a parent and a pastor, my hope and desire is that my own kids and those whom I lead become critical thinkers as they grow into adulthood. More specifically, I desire to see them develop great character...Christ-like character, that will allow them to become who they were created to be. Now the development of character isn&#…

When Tragedy Strikes

Over the last 48 hours our world has experienced tragic events. Some of them occurred further from my home (China), others were somewhat close (Connecticut) and even others have occurred around our own city. These events are a humble reminder of how broken, hurt and distressed the world we live in really is. 
I'm reminded of the example of Christian brothers and sisters who responded to the outbreak of the black plague in England in the 1300s. Panic, fear and desperation motivated many English residents to flee from infected areas leaving the sick and dying to fend for themselves. A few brave souls, God-fearing, Jesus radicals, responding to the tragic invitation this pandemic inflicted upon their country by choosing to care for those who were in need. These individuals chose to "sit in the ashes" alongside of their hurting peers similar to the initial way Job's friends responding to his pain in the biblical account bearing his name.
Our world is different today tha…

Form or Function

Today I had the privilege of beginning a year long journey with a group of individuals who are as crazy as I am...people who appreciate, care about and genuinely love teenagers. As you may be able to imagine, whenever like-minded folks get together, much of the conversation is focused on what we are doing and how we are doing it. I'm not sure if this is a systemic issue, or a preoccupation that is a societal trend, but we as humans seem to be fascinated with form. 
Think about it for a moment. We celebrate (and even idolize) the human form in a variety of ways: athletic achievements, intellectual pursuits, spiritual habits and physical changes and/or developments. Somehow we seem to believe that the form is the pinacle of excellence...but perhaps the opposite might be true?
When I think of function, I think of purpose. I make a lot of different choices based on this principle. I use certain technology because of its' functionality. I wear certain clothing, not because of how i…

Being There

Lately it seems as though I'm learning more about sacrificial love. Perhaps it has something to do with being a father of 3 young kids, or a pastor of youth and families in a society where family is a polarizing and often negative term, but I find myself drawn into a journey of rediscovery of what it means to love.
I'm learning that I love selfishly...yep, you read that typo! It's true. I often extend love to others because I expect a pay-off; I expect something in return for my "freely" given affection. And as I've dug into this mentality a little further, I've discovered that in so many ways I've allowed my meager definition of love to be disillusioned and influenced by societal driven values instead of the deeply rooted values that I long for.
These moments of introspection have led me to what I hope will be a profound conclusion on a personal level: What if I simply focused on being there?
When we love selfishly, we "love"…

Fortress of Solitude

I was sitting on my couch the other night, doing some channel surfing, when I stumbled upon one of the classic Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve. The scene depicted on screen was his discovery of the fortress of solitude. For those of you who have seen the flick, perhaps you are familiar with this portion of the movie. For those who have not, let me do my best summarize.
The fortress of solitude is the one place where superman can find out more about who He is, and also get some much needed rest and downtime.
The question that I found myself asking was this: If superman needs a fortress of solitude, do I need one?
Now I know that superman is a fictitious character (or is he??), but there is a leadership principle at work here that I'd like to identify. Sometimes we as humans crave a space where we can discover more about who we are while resting, recharging and realigning. It's kind of like vehicular maintenance in a way. As I discover more about myself as a leader, a…

Empowerment and Apprenticeship

Language often gets us in trouble...
There are a lot of interesting conversations that take place in my household. With three young children, I have learned that I need to be careful about what sort of words I use to describe things. Instead of saying something like, "this is astonishing," I use these words "this is really fun." The reason being is that the cognitive development of my kids sometimes doesn't comprehend larger words. In fact, there are many times when my kids ask me what a certain word might mean. As I'm explaining the meaning of this word, I've learned that it's not only important to use additional verbal references, but also to demonstrate to them what this words actually means.
When I think about the future of our society and the community of faith, I think there are many similarities that can be found between how I'm learning to interact with my young children and how different generations need to grow in communicating with on…

Message of Hope

We haven't been created to journey through life all alone. No matter what you might be facing in life right now, take comfort knowing that you are not alone, even when you feel that you just might be...

Be Still
on Vimeo.

Values not Vehicles

I can remember the first day when I took possession of my very own vehicle. While I did enjoy cruising around in my new car, I found that I enjoyed the value of freedom more than the actual car itself. My car, although wonderful, took a lot of maintenance to keep on the road. I would spend lots of money, time and effort into making sure that my car was ship shape. And you know what happened? Well the day came along that this vehicle I had put so much energy into no longer met my needs, so I went out and purchased a new one. While this story might seem a little trivial, I do think it provides us with a glimpse into the societal tendency we have to value vehicles ahead of actual values.

There is so much that I'm learning about what I don't know thanks to being a father of young, impressionable children. Perhaps the most valuable lesson that is currently occupying by brain is the idea of what kind of values I am passing along to my children. Values are an interesting thing. Somet…

The Field of Dreams Myth

In 1989 Kevin Costner starred in a movie that I've entitled this post after. The basic premise of the film was creating a space and rhythm for memories and connections to be made. The most famous line from the flick "if you build it, they will come" has long been a rallying point for those of us who are immersed in the world of ministry.

We've spent millions of dollars, hours and other resources crafting programs that have been designed to attract people towards Jesus like a fly to fly-paper, and if we were honest about our measurement of success, we might simply categorize these efforts as a colossal fail.

Think about this for a minute. I live in Canada, and while I'm very thankful and grateful to be a part of this nation, there are many things that grieve me as a citizen of Canada. Consider our nation's unwillingness to fight for the rights of an unborn fetus, or our inability to create a inter-cultural community where tolerance isn't the common placed …

The Philosopher vs. The Practicioner

My favorite undergraduate class was philosophy. I enjoyed it so much particularly because the entire structure of the class itself was centered around personal opinion, and if you know me...I seem to have no shortage of those!!
While I really do enjoy thinking about, observing, creating and teaching philosophical concepts and worldviews, philosophy itself doesn't amount to much of anything. Unless couple with a practical application, the dispensation of philosophy erodes to the lowest form of entertainment based pontification.
Think about this for a minute. You take a class, listen to an expert or read through some material in order to gain a better frame of reference on a particular set of circumstances in order to engage these circumstances with a greater amount of creativity and innovation. We pursuing learning in order to experience growth...we desire to live beyond our current reality.
For some of us our natural inclination might be towards the philosophical ramifications of …

We Love our Options - Discipleship 186

If there is one universal value that all of humankind seems to uphold (at least the segment that resides in North America) it would be options.
Let me explain what I mean. Agreed, there can be other factors at play in the evolution of life in general, but one of the primary motivations behind what we do and what we pursue in our culture seems to point to the desire of greater options. Think about this for a moment. Parents work hard to provide their children with experiences they never had (options). Immigrants embrace the reality of life in a new country hoping their children will have a better opportunity to succeed in life (options). Youth and young adults choose their scholastic environment based on what courses and extra curricular activities are offered (options). Building a new home or choosing a new community to live in is often influenced by what sort of amenities are associated with the community or the new home building project (options). Church goers shop around until they…

Just like a child - Discipleship 185

My daughter started school last week. I've been filled with mixed emotions ever since then. Part of me couldn't believe I was old enough to have a child in school, while another part of me was excited to see how her character will continue to develop and grow due to the new school experience.
Perhaps the most profound lesson I've learned from this initial school exposure is how similar I am to my own kids. In learning to identify more with what they are experiencing, I am beginning to understand what it is critical for me to be aware of how others are processing this "human experience" so that I can help inspire, encourage, motivate, challenge and lead them. Here are three must knows for every parent and leader.
1. They are thinking the same thing. After my daughter's first day of school, I learned that I ask the same questions that she does. Questions like "who am I going to sit with," "I wonder if that person will remember my name," and &…

What are you owning? - Discipleship 184

I can remember the very first time I purchased something with my own money. I had been saving up my Christmas and birthday money in order to buy a brand new video game for my Super Nintendo! My dad and I headed into the city to the local Zellers which had the best selection of games for purchase. I remember being filled with such great anticipation and excitement knowing that this was something I had worked for and planned to purchase. I was a proud owner!!
As a parent and a pastor I've often asked myself the question of what I am owning? The families under my pastoral care and even my own children don't necessarily belong to me in that I own them, but they are gifts that I've been allowed to help shape, model and develop. Knowing this, here are three things I'm learning what I should be owning as both a parent and a pastor:
1. Values, not programs. Programs are wonderful. They allow us to experience a variety of things, and sometimes even help to teach us something (ie…

Staying Fresh - Discipleship 183

There is something inspiring about creating some new, or tweaking something that already exists in order to make it feel like a new experience. 
I like variety. There are seasons when I enjoy the same thing (pizza....) and then there are others when I can't get enough of new perspective shifting mindsets. 
I wonder if our relational connection with people and with God might fall into this same desire to keep things fresh? I know there are times when I'm looking for something new instead of the systematic routine that I have established. Maybe I'm the only one, but if you too crave variety and newness...consider experimenting with these four things:
1. Shake it up. There is nothing more system shocking for those of us who crave our routines, to deliberately do everything different for an entire day. So you stop at the same coffee shop every morning? Try a different place. Never tried a certain ethnic cuisine for lunch or dinner? Today is that day!! Create an…

When It's Hard to be Thankful - Discipleship 182

Maybe I'm alone in feeling this way, but there are times in my life where I simply do not appreciate nor do I feel grateful for who I am, what I have and what my life is all about. I find these moments in time very interesting as I observe how I'm reacting (or over-reacting) to circumstances, people and the other things that life brings.
I often wonder what I would or could do if things were different in some way.
It's in these moments of introspection that I'm learning to discipline myself to be thankful, instead of wishing for something more or something else. It's alright to crave something deeper, but when the craving for more (consumption) overshadows current reality (perspective) run into the proverbial dead end internally and feel like you are hitting a wall that cannot be overcome...and the vicious circle continues unless you can system shock your way out of it.
Here are three things that are necessary for me to initiate system shock:
1. Pursue Simplic…

Relational Ties - Discipleship 181

I'm sure many of you have heard the phrase "the tie that binds us." It might be a little here's a more modern approach to this same idea - relational connecting points.
I've had the amazing privilege of knowing some fantastic older folks over the course of my life. Some of my favorite memories are having spent time with wise, old, wrinkled individuals and chatting. You know what the common denominator in most of their stories they tell is? Relationships. No matter how old or how young you might be, it's the relational ties that we have that grant us a portion of our identity. Here are three key things I'm learning about relational ties:
1. All relationships shape us. Whether it's a positive interaction with a teacher from your Grade 1 class, or a frightful first date experience...all relationships shape us. We are formed, reformed, dented and glued by the relational connections we develop with others...even if these connections are limite…

Creating Teams - Discipleship 180

We were created for community. Every person on earth enjoys being connected to and with others. Depending on the cultural context, some people call these connections communities, others call them tribes and some may refer to them as teams.

I believe that the only way to find success in life is to pursue a collective goal in community, or in others words, to work together as a team.
Whether you are referring to a family unit, a leadership grouping, a school setting or a workplace environment, each of these contexts provides the opportunity to work collaboratively as a team. The challenge in working together is knowing how to build or create a team. Here are three things I'm learning about building teams:
1. Everyone has value. Whether you are referring to the youngest person in a family, or the most senior member of a work place, everyone has value. The challenge in creating a team is to identify and establish a culture of value and appreciation so that every member of the community…

Stories are Inspiring - Discipleship 179

Have you ever considered that you and I are living stories? Our lives paint pictures and create waves that affect others around us, both positively and negatively. We also live in a culture that is fascinated with story. There are three basic elements to a story. Consider how your awareness of these elements may help you in your role as a leader, a parent and a friend.
1. Author - Every story has an author. The author is someone who creates a picture or a platform...something we call a story. If we agree that each of us is a living story, we are all authors and are all constantly writing, painting, demonstrating and living in the story (that is our lives) we are creating. What is fascinating about authorship is that we live in a world who's story has already been told, but as living, breathing and interactive sub-stories to this broader unfolding story, we still have the opportunity to be involved in this greater unfolding story. How we use our ability to tell our story is where we…

Authenticity 2.0 - Discipleship 178

It looks like I may once again be focusing the bulk of my ramblings on the theme of community for this season. I can't help but be absolutely fascinated by our desire to define ourselves by how we do or do not connect with others. Call it a fixation with sociology I guess...
What I'm learning and observing most about community currently is with regard to the character development of authenticity. Authenticity is the desire to be real; to pursue truth. So much of how we form community is based more on appearance than truth or desire, and this is why it is difficult to add the element of authenticity into the formation of community. Here are for ideas as to why authenticity and community seem to be more polarizing than harmonizing:
1. Authenticity isn't convenient. Getting to know someone for who they really are is a lot of hard work. We have to peel back the layers of expectation, fear, confusion and cultural nuance in order to get to the core of who we are as people. It tak…

Community - Discipleship 177

Community is one of my favorite subjects to write about, talk about and experience. I am fascinated by the human desire to connect and belong to something. The interrelated connections we create and define ourselves by are woven together in a wonderfully complex tapestry. Here are three things I'm learning more about regarding community.
1. Community is created. Community cannot be found, it has to be created. We invest the majority of our time trying to develop connections with people...we are often looking for that significant spark in order to validate our desire. The truth is that every connection we have with another being is a product of creation, not merely the dumb luck of having stumbled upon its' existence. Our desire for connection is a part of our default programming as humans. We, like our Creator, are hard-wired to connect relationally with the rest of humanity. People spend the majority of their lives in pursuit of the impossible task of finding a connection inst…

Discouraged - Discipleship 176

Discouragement is par for the course as a leader and a parent. There are times when those under our care (yes, even our own children) will not live up to our expectations or hopes and things may not go according to our original plan.

It's in these moments of discouragement that we are our most fragile. The heightened sense of emotional angst often causes us to do or to say things we may have done or said differently in a more stable moment of thought. It's also critical to have a plan of action in order to navigate these moments of discouragement.

Here are three practical steps that aide me in the battle during seasons or moments of discouragement.

1. Remember where you've been. When a moment doesn't turn out the way I had hoped or expected, it's always great for me to remember where I've come from and the growth that has happened in the past in order to get me to the present. This is especially critical as a leader when you might be campaigning for change. Disc…

How to train your dragon - Discipleship 175

This was one of my most favorite family films in recent memory. My daughter Saydie is relentless on watching it via playback numerous times in a month.

The element that has always stuck out to me from this film is something that I believe is relevant for parents and leaders to ask themselves: what makes training successful?

There are a number of different elements present in any sort of training and/or learning environment. In this post, I want to share three elements that I believe are absolutely critical when it comes to development and formation of people.

1. Share - This is the core of the learning process. When trying to train someone or helping them to learn, you are really inviting them to share in an experience. The success of the initiative will depend on the level to which partnership is created around the learning other words, the ability to share. The learning process involves both the teacher and the pupil. Each plays a role in the process as a whole. If one e…

Key Leadership & Parenting Questions - Discipleship 174

As a parent of three young kids and a pastor to a number of teens and families, I'm learning a lot about the values of listening and asking questions. Here are three critical questions that should be incorporated into every teaching moment or conversation both as a parent and a leader.
1. What do you value? This is the grassroots foundational big bertha type of question. What I've discovered is that there are often times when I'm simply not on the same page with my kids or those in my sphere of ministry care because there is a difference in what we value. Parents who ask me to "fix their kid" are often looking for an immediate change in behaviour, where I may be approaching the situation from a longer-term heart driven and character formation type of initiative. It is absolutely critical that there is clarity when it comes to this question of value. The answer to this question will help you know how to lead, even if that means stepping away from the situation beca…

Creating Culture - Discipleship 173

Change that is long term and sustainable is all about the creation of a culture.
If you look at the music industry, you will find many examples of artists who created cultural shifts that transcend time, nuance and location. If I say the word Beatles what comes to mind? Floppy hair, rock and roll, and simplicity. What about The Rolling Stones? Pushing the envelope, smash-mouth musicianship and longevity.
There are many other examples of cultural innovators such as these. The challenge we all have as emerging leaders (parents, pastors or others) is being a part of the creation of culture for a specific context, setting and time. Here are three things I'm learning about creating culture:
1. Be honest. When you look in the mirror, don't hide from the things you don't want to see and create things that simply aren't there. Be honest about where you are at and where you want to be. Its' only out of moments of authenticity that true, deep-seeded change and creation of cul…

Community - Discipleship 172

I've written about and spoken on this subject matter on a number of different occasions. Today, I want to share a different slant on community. I'm going to be transparent, sharing the fears that I battle in my own personal pursuit of community.

1. I believe the lie of isolation. In some way, shape or form, I believe that lie that suggests I'm better off on my own. Independence is a great thing...but being too independent only leads to loneliness and despair. Codependence, on the other hand, recognizes that need for a communal approach to life. But again, too great an emphasis on codependence results in an unbalanced and unhealthy approach to life. There needs to be a balance between our individual pursuit of independence and our communal pursuit of codependence. No one can truly live in complete isolation from others.
2. I value experience over people. There are times when I simply do not make time for connecting with others because I'm too focused on consuming an exper…

What you say? - Discipleship 171

I've been overwhelmed by the steep learning curve that I've been immersed in when it comes to the topic of communication. Here are four things that I'm pondering in my life:

1. If it isn't real, it isn't worth it. Timothy Keller is quoted as saying, "you can't traffic an unfelt truth." We've all known people who just like to talk, but nothing they say really mattered or had any quality of depth to it. If I don't have anything good to say, and if what I want to say isn't real, then I simply shouldn't say it. Communication is about connecting with other people. I cannot develop a true connection unless I'm being real. All my communicative interactions must be saturated in authenticity, otherwise it isn't worth the effort in trying to communicate.

2. Consistently be consistent. This is a big one. There is so much messaging in our world today. We are bombarded with all sorts of advertising, opinions and rhetoric. The challenge is thi…

Fun has value - Discipleship 170

I'm learning lots about how to have fun. Being a father of 3 pre-school aged children and a pastor to youth and their families has allowed me to be submersed in a great learning environment that welcomes experimentation.

Growing up I was under the impression that I needed to choose to be serious or to choose to have fun in life. It's only now, in the early middle stages of my adulthood that I'm learning these two elements can actually coexist. Here are the top three things I'm learning about the value of having fun.

1. Fun is essential in helping to build community. This isn't rocket science. If you don't enjoy being with someone, why would you continue a relationship with them? I agree that fun must be balanced with moments of depth, but fun should never be fully abandoned when attempting to build community.

2. Learning to have fun is a lot easier when you don't take yourself too seriously. I'm so grateful to my children who teach me the value of this ev…

Freedom - Discipleship 169

I voted in our provincial election today. The democratic system that we live in as Canadians is something I do not normally think about until I have the opportunity to lend my voice to a greater cause. I'm thankful and grateful for the opportunity that I have to be involved in the freedom of speech that is democratic voting.

As a follower of Christ, I also have the benefit of another form of freedom...something called grace. Here are three things I'm learning about God's grace:

1. Grace comes with responsibility. Now hold on a minute. I am not suggesting that we need to earn God's grace. What I am suggesting is that because this grace is freely given, we have the responsibility to steward this grace wisely. This means that I cannot and should not abuse this gift, but instead live out my life with a sense of deep gratitude and thankfulness for the freedom that I have been given. Think about the movie Saving Private Ryan. Five guys give their lives in order to save one. T…

The Discipline of Joy - Discipleship 168

It looks like Thursdays are my new post days for here we go again!

Over the last couple of weeks I've had the privilege of being a part of several incredible conversations. Some of these conversations contained subject material that was incredibly inspiring, while others have been more humbling in nature.

In each of these conversations I'm learning incredible things about joy. Here are the top three takeaways that I've had:

1. Joy is not a feeling, it's a filter. You've probably heard the saying that perception is everything...and that might be true to a point. Regarding the pursuit of joy, I'm learning more about how it's not about a feeling but it is able a filter, perception and discipline. I must intentionally choose to focus on the good or the potential good of any situation or set of circumstances that I'm faced with. In doing so, I become filled with joy, rather than filled with something entirely different.

2. Joy begins with a conscious…

Persuasion or Inspiration - Discipleship 167

Being a father and a pastor has provided me with the opportunity to learn a lot about leadership, failure, success and a variety of other subjects.

The current topic du jour that is occupying my brain space is that of persuasion and inspiration.

These are two leadership strategies that parents and leaders unknowingly or knowingly utilize on a daily basis. Leaders (and I define parents as leaders also) are constantly petitioning their audience in some way, shape or form. The desire and longing is to motivate or cause a shift or change to take place. Parents desire to motivate their kids toward a desired outcome. Leaders desire to motivate their followers towards a preferred future. In these moments of petitioning, the leadership challenge is knowing which motivation strategy is needed for the current situation.

Here are 3 things I'm learning about how to persuade and inspire:

1. Inspiration is more powerful than persuasion. Inspiring others is about motivating them to make their own…

Plain & Simple - Discipleship 166

I've been thinking about how I use language lately.

As a parent of two young "parrots" I've often found myself choosing to use different words for fear that one day my kids will repeat something I wish they hadn't heard from me.

I wonder how often we as communicators and leaders would say the same thing? A good friend of mine once shared with me the burden he feels as a worship leader to help create a worship vocabulary for his community. He chooses every song carefully with this thought in mind: how do these words help edify the God we serve while drawing people closer to Him?

What a great challenge!

So, when we communicate with others, are we desiring to pursue clarity or confusion as our end result? My hope is that I can provide clarity to those who I may be sharing with verbally. Here are five things that I'm learning about how to communicate both plainly and simply so I can be understood.

1.Talk with someone, don't talk to them. Interaction is key to …

Entitlement - Discipleship 165

Entitlement seems to be the word du jour that many adults use to describe the emerging youth and young adult culture. Quite frankly, I myself have used this word in this same regard.

What I'm learning more and more about these days is how the emerging youth and young adult culture seems to be a mirrored reflection of the natural human condition, in addition to learned behaviour from previous generations.

I have 3 pre-school aged kids. Today we have been celebrating my oldest son's third birthday. With every birthday in the Frizzell house comes the opening of gifts, the eating of cake and other fun memories. I find it very interesting how each of my kids has developed a sense of ownership and entitlement when it comes to these birthday traditions. They argue over toys, they make sure that they are heard and they voice there opinion in no uncertain terms.

I challenge you to do a social experiment sometime this week. Try to observe a group of kids, youth or adults interact with e…

Filter - Discipleship 164

The recent bombardment of social justice initiatives via social media has illuminated the deep-seeded desire that exists for a single individual to make a difference in the world at large. One of the many great aspects of being a pastor to youth is the fact that this emerging generation has a natural inclination towards compassion, social justice and world change. And recent world events and statistical data have shown the growth and progress towards social justice issues such as world poverty and clean drinking water are being made.

The problem with this natural inclination is that many other people who may not be naturally wired in this way seem to be intimidated and afraid of it...both inside and outside the church.

The question I'm left asking myself is not only how I may respond to the emerging justice issues of the day, but more importantly, how am I going to filter what I see, hear and experience?

I would suggest that there are only three responses to issues of social justi…

Originality - Discipleship 163

The default setting for humanity seems to be comparison. We love to measure ourselves against others in order to see where we might actually fit. We compare salaries, talents, skills, gifts and even opinions.
What has me fired up today is the tendency we have as Christians to compare ourselves to each other. In particular, we seem to get great pleasure out of comparing one church to another church in order to determine how we might be "better" than the other. As a leader in the church, I confess that I have fallen into this mindset. I've definitely compared the programatic elements of my church against others, looking to find places where my program may be superior or borrow ideas that I can replicate into my ministry context. And I hate to say it...but I'm not alone in this type of comparative conditioning.
I'm reminded of a portion of the story of the nation of Israel from the Old Testament. The nation of Israel did not have a physical king. Instead, God Himself …