Reach Out And Touch Someone

There is power in TOUCH.  We are born with the need to be touched.  Studies show that if we are not cuddled as babies or children, we do not develop as well.

One author says, “Touch is a sense with unique functions and qualities … Touch affects the whole organism.”  She says, “Touch is ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact, and it affects nearly everything we do.  No other sense can affect you like touch.”

I’ve seen bumper stickers that ask, “Did you hug your tree today?”  I’d like to see a bumper sticker which reminds us to hug kids more than we would a tree.  Trees don’t respond the way people do.

Our sense of self is related to our sense of touch; with how we feel.  We stroke our forearms; we run our fingers through our hair to relieve stress.  And kids need more assurance that they are loved.

Now, obviously we must be wise in the way we go about this.  APPROPRIATE TOUCHING consists of:

  • touch on the shoulder when you talk to them
  • pat on the head
  • high fives
  • side hugs
  • fist bump

I challenge you to try to physically touch every child in your class or Children’s Ministry this coming week.  You will be surprised how well they respond.

Improving Your Serve

The great Chicago preacher, Dwight L. Moody, once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” One of the most important traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.

Ministry is all about serving others.  It’s never been about getting the glory, the kudos, or the spotlight.  Jesus himself was the ultimate servant.  He said, “The Son of Man did not come to the Earth to be served, but to serve.”

As we minister to children, we’ll be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (getting on the floor and playing with blocks, acting like crazy characters, getting hit in the face with pies, and going to lock-ins, just to name a few).  We need a heart that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I’ll do it!”

One of the guys who has served on my Kids Ministry team for the last 7 years is Victor Rodriguez.  He’s a third-degree black belt who works for the Police Department.  If there’s anyone who could easily impose himself on others, it’s Victor.  But he displays a tender, serving heart to the children in our church.  It’s not uncommon to walk into the room to find Victor sitting on the floor talking to a child or running around the room with two or three boys hanging on his back.  He loves to serve kids.

Victor also serves his leaders.  I’ve received many phone calls and emails from him, asking what he can do to serve me.  He wants to do what he can to make my job easier.  Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” (Mark 9:35).  Victor lives this commitment every day.

Serving comes down to this, “Others first, me last.”  Try focusing less on teaching the lesson you have prepared, and be aware enough to notice when your kids are going through a rough time.  Look for opportunities to serve your kids.  Look for opportunities to serve your leaders.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

Eric Trap

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.

Don’t Just Feel It, Express It! (Gratitude)

Gratitude

Gratitude is an important component of any leader’s life.  Gratitude keeps you grounded, realizing that the world does not revolve around you.  Gratitude helps you avoid the dreaded “entitlement mentality” – the idea that you deserve all the good that comes your way simply because you are so cute and special.

Gratitude is important for relationships.  People WANT to be around others who are grateful.  Most people avoid those who are ungrateful or selfish.

Gratitude is important for your own mental and physical health.  Did you know:

“A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance.” [The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127.]

Some kids’ ministry leaders tell me they really enjoy working in their church with their pastor.  I ask, “When was the last time you told him?”  Sometimes, it’s very recent, but others admit it’s been a long time.

Don’t just feel thankful—express it in a way that communicates your heart.

For appreciation to be received, it must be sincere.  Don’t just go through the motions and hope it works out okay.  If you’re not feeling thankful, take time to pray.  Ask God for eyes to see what He sees so you can overlook some of the difficulties and really appreciate the phenomenal opportunity to reach kids for Christ in your church.

In the past few years, I’ve tried to make gratitude a normal part of my communication.  I send my pastor thank you notes for all kinds of things, and even more, for being a terrific leader and friend.  Sometimes, I give him small gifts to show my appreciation. I want him to know that I don’t take him for granted.  Notes, words, and gifts let him know I’m very thankful for him as my leader and the blessings that come from serving in this church.

How about you?  Do you have an entitlement mentality or an attitude of gratitude?  Do you merely FEEL gratitude or do you express it?  When was the last time you wrote a note, sent an email, or verbally thanked your pastor?  He gets enough negative letters and emails.  Take the time now to send something positive.  Express your gratitude.