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Diversity

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This post also appears on Canadian Youth Worker here.



If you study the life of Jesus you will not only discover a God-man full of integrity and character. You may also discover that He likes to do things differently...a lot.

When I first started out in ministry as a volunteer and then young ministry leader, I was convinced that the way I was doing things was the best possible way to minister to teens and families. Call it arrogance, call it being naive, or simply call it being blind. Many years later as a seasoned ministry leader I'm learning to appreciate the richness that diversity has to offer.

Diversity is an interesting word. To some it means embracing a laissez-faire attitude towards life and leadership, while to others it means uncovering and celebrating the different personalities, character and dreams that people possess. For me, diversity is a value; one that liberates a leader from a narrow frame of modus operandi.

Back to Jesus.

If you study the miracles that Jesus per…

Conversations

The holiday seasons provides us with many opportunities to generate different conversations. Sometimes these conversations are brand new, and others are sometimes rekindled over food, fun or some other holiday activity.

Regardless of how conversations begin, it's clear that the words and non-vocal exchanges that occur in every conversation matter. Here are some ideas on creating conversations that matter:

A Christmas Pep Talk

Heading into the holiday season we are sometimes in need of a reminder of what might really be important. This is a message I got to share alongside a teenager at the church I currently pastor in. I hope it inspires you to find hope and peace this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Pep Talk

Autonomy or Collaboration

Sometimes I wonder if living in our consumer oriented culture stunts the development of our understanding and implementation of leadership.

The typical North American branding for leaders has been those created through a personal ascension towards responsibility, goals and achievements. The name of the game has been to increase one's character, competency and capability so you can become the leader you were intended to be.

As a leader, what I've learned most is that in order to grow I need others around me to challenge me, to encourage me and to help refine me. There is a great temptation to try and carve out our own personal slice of leadership glory. But when we choose autonomy over collaboration, we choose position over progress.

Here are three reasons why it pays to pursue collaboration.

1. God is collaborative. Although the existence and relevance of God may be up for debate in some circles, examining every major world religion you will find that God is always projected to…

Being Intentional

We live in a last minute culture and we are slaves to our impulses. Marketing agencies take full advantage of this concept with gems like:
Buy now, pay laterFast food - we deliver in 30 minutes or less or your pizza is freeThe easy buttonInstant downloadInstant love connection
All the while, we are accumulating these instant fixes for deeply seeded needs as we allow our impulses to control, dictate and dominant our schedules, our habits and our choices.
But what if life what never intended to be lived at the rate of pure impulse? I'm discovering these three things as I strive to find a balance between impulse and being intentional.

1. If you believe in intelligent design, you believe that planning is important. Life doesn't make sense without the concept of intelligent design. Intelligent means well thought out. If you and I exist as part of a well thought out design, which points to the undeniable fact that planning is essential in order to create something that is significa…

Breaking Bees

My son Cannon is terrified of bees.
The instant he hears the buzzing noise of an incoming insect, he runs for cover. While humorous at times, it's also frustrating from the perspective as a father when you see your son driven by fear of the unknown rather than the certainty of what is. No amount of rational, logical thinking can help Cannon process the reality that he is larger than a bee and the bee might just be more afraid of him than he is of it.
I was thinking more about bees during one family walk and yet another instant where I witnessed Cannon jumping out-of-the-way of another insect for fear it might harm him. What do bees and Christians have in common? Here are a couple of thoughts that came to mind.
1. We travel in packs. Bees live in colonies: extended family communal type settings. There are times when different bees are sent out of the hive to scout out new territory, but for the most part, bees prefer to stick together with their own kind.
This is somewhat of a sad …

Conflict, Friendship & Feet

I suffer from the proverbial foot it mouth disease. I cannot recount how many times I have intentionally or unintentionally caused conflict based on what I did or didn't say to someone. It is because of this habit of eating my own feet that I have gained a lot of experience with regards to the benefits of working through relational tension.
This is a fact: Every human relationship will experience conflict, strain and stress over time.How we choose to handle these moments of conflict will determine whether or not a connection is strengthened or severed. Here are two ideas on how you can grow through relational tension.

1. Humility.There is nothing quite like a reminder that you're not perfect to help foster humility in one's character. Learning to apologize, accept responsibility for your actions, and the consequences associated with disappointment and pain provide the best catalyst for character growth and development. It's in times of tension where your true character i…

Living into Mission

I chose the domain name of "Live the Story" for my blog because of the belief I hold that every single human being that has existed, presently exists or will exist in the future plays a role on an overarching story of the existence of humanity. Every single character in this story plays a part in its development (good or bad). The challenge we face in this emerging understanding of story landscape is discovering how our role fits into the grander story of humankind, and what we can do to help shape this story in the present and in the future.

For the sake of this post, I'd like to define the role that each human being plays within the context of this unfolding story as mission. Mission answers the question of why we exist. It gives us meaning, purpose, worth and orientation for the life what we live.
For some, mission is to kill, destroy, manipulate and harm for personal gain. Others may find meaning in devotion to faith, family, friends or vocation. 
In any case, every …

Team and Transformation

I'm a huge fan of team sports because I love studying how teams are put together. I listen to endless hours of debate and rhetoric about what drafted or acquired player might turn into an all-star or high-functioning leader for his team; and who might be a better fit in terms of role or character on which team. I'm intrigued by the phrase "intangible qualities" team officials use during interviews to justify the selection of a specific player ahead of another individual.
What I've discovered in all of my observation and involvement as a fan is that there are two major components of team building that exist in the world of professional sports: the draft (player development) and the sign or trade (the acquisition). Imitation is often the predominant pattern to sh a team. When one team wins a championship, other teams begin to adopt principles of the championship squad. Players are analyzed, graded, ranked and selected based on different sets of needs for each indivi…

We are What We Value

"You are what you eat!"

I can remember watching late night infomercials while in college that were attempting to sell me some new high fibre crash-diet miracle fat burner. For only three easy payments of 59.95 you can create the body shape you've always wanted!! These commercials were mildly entertaining at 3am as you are working on some sort of study paper due the next morning.
What I learned from these infomercials is that we not only have an over-fascination with dieting, but we also crave instant gratification and change.
The truth about life (that no one wants to market) is that it can be difficult. Many people on our planet face an everyday struggle for survival. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in places where our challenges aren't as severe may think differently at times, but we too struggle with making the most of the time we've been given to live.

If life is a gift we've been given, how might we invest what we've been given? Here are 3…

Three Invitations Boredom Brings

I have three young children at home (1 girl, 2 boys). My daughter just started grade 1 this week, and she loves having to take a bus to get to her school. Five days a week we wake up before the sun, ingest some sort of breakfast food, and make the trek out to meet the bus. Four days a week, we pick her up around 3pm. But Friday is a half day, meaning that she needs to be picked up at noon.
This is our schedule and routine. Mix in friends coming over for dinner, extra-curricular activities and family time and it becomes a full experience. There is seemingly little room for boredom, but without fail, one of the kids will vocalize with great conviction that they are bored if they don't have something to do or are asked to spend some downtime each day. Their response to moments of boredom makes me chuckle, cause I remember saying something similar to my parents when I was younger. In fact, I even thought that being bored might actually kill me one day. But guess what? It hasn't.
T…

The Great Consumer

I recently read a claim made by Alan Hirsch that 95% of churches in North America are attempting to reach the same 40% of the population. While in some cases this might seem like an exaggeration, the North American propensity towards consumerism might actually confirm such an analysis.

Our predominant culture is built upon individualism and consumption. We create to consume, we consume to create, and this endless cycle repeats itself. As a parent, pastor, friend and leader, I often spend my time thinking about how I am inspiring others and what sort of life I'm inspiring them towards. The cyclical nature of the above-described cultural reality seems more like a life-sucking vortex than an inspirational fountain.

Consumerism isn't entirely evil, but when left imbalanced, it can become the millstone that sinks the ship so to speak. Here are three tendencies this imbalance brings.

1. Loss of the ability to create.At the dawn of the human age, humanity was given two great responsibil…

To Shame or To Inspire

Our family recently watched The Croods. Our kids loved different elements of the show, and as with all movies in a household containing pre-school aged children...our kids have enjoyed mimicking different phrases and scenes from their newest favourite movie.

I've always been fascinated by different forms of communication and the motivations that drive our need to communicate.

There are two characters in this film that personify the classic tension found in communication...to shame or to inspire. Grugg is the prototypical father figure. His desire is to keep his family safe, and he uses fear to keep his community in line. Guy, on the other hand, while desiring to see everyone remain safe, chooses to inspire the community through his communication style.

Watching these two individuals try to lead their community made me think. As parents and leaders we face the decision to shame or to inspire on a daily basis. These are the two primary voices of leadership that are at our disposal. …

The Silver Lining

I had the privilege of serve alongside a cluster of world changers today. As many of you know, southern Alberta (the region where I live) experienced significant flooding during the third week of June. Many residents suffered damage to their homes, lots of infrastructure was destroyed, and even our beloved green spaces experienced change during this natural disaster.

My band of change agents & I headed to one of our local green spaces to help in the cleaning efforts with the goal of helping restore a communal oasis for public use. We got started in our efforts much later than we had hoped, but by the end of our experience each one of us left with a different souvenir of sorts (other than filth laden clothing).

It was humbling to see the damage caused by flooding first hand: 30 foot trees uprooted, erosion of the river bank, damaged fencing, debris and other sorts of clutter. But within the layers of chaos, there were still signs of great hope. Hope that this emerging generation re…

The Funny Serious Side of Life

Remember being a kid? Summers seemed to stretch on forever. Life seemed brighter at times, and the endless quest for fun was at the forefront of each day's agenda.

Then somewhere along the line we all decided (in one way or another), that it was time to grow up and fun became less of an emphasis as we pursued the more serious side of life.

Maybe you're like me and the faces of people come to mind when you think of people who are way too serious about life, and others who seem to take life for granted. Is there a balanced approach between these two opposing outlooks on life? I think so. And here's what I'm learning about it.

1. Fun & Serious are actually cousins. Being fun and being serious are actually interrelated (meaning that they belong to the same family). I'm not certain that either emphasis is worthwhile unless it is coupled with its' cousin. Laughter and fun create the necessary bridges to become more serious about life, and the serious side of life …

What Matters

Time is limited.

The movie In Time starring Justin Timberlake contained the basic plot and understanding that every living human being exists within a specific time frame. The characters of the movie all possessed clocks on their arms that would begin counting down towards zero once they reached a certain age. Once their clock reached zero, they would cease to exist. Instead of being paid a regular wage, they were paid in time increments in order to prolong their existence. Commodities were equated with a different cost in time; 4 minutes for a coffee, 3 minutes for a bus ride, etc.

As leaders, parents & individuals, our life here on earth does follow this same basic principle and understanding. It's true we may not possess a countdown clock on our forearms letting us know how much time we've got left, we do have an awareness that life on this planet doesn't last forever, and usually a longing to invest whatever time we've been given coincides with this basic under…

The Most Terrifying Question I've ever asked

What now?
In recent weeks I've found myself bumping into this question more frequently. I've walked with families who are working through pain, I've seen many grade 12 students wondering what might be on the horizon a few months from now, and I've even had conversations with folks about different life transitions they are looking at (moving, changing jobs, health issues, etc.). The one common denominator in all of these interactions has been the prevailing, and somewhat deafening, ask of "what now?"
This question seems to stem from a form of identity crisis. When a role that we have played begins to shift (like graduation from an achievement of sorts), we seemingly loose sight of a piece of our identity. We are no longer what we used to be, and we are uncertain of who we are in the immediate and now not as distant future.
I wonder if the tension we experience is a result of allowing our identity to be shaped more by the roles we've been accustomed to playing…