Rebuilding Understanding

I love lego. I have many found memories of building, destroying, and playing with lego. Even in my mid twenties I still love sitting down for an afternoon full of adventures and small multi-colored brick buildings.

Have you ever been at a point when you are building something and it just wasn’t going the way you thought? Wasn’t turning out the way you wanted and you had to tear it all down and start again? I had a moment like that this past week, when I went to see a old family friend preform in front a sold out crowd at the Winnipeg Concert Center.

My view of leadership is being transformed. God is inviting me to tear down the odd, and not quite right understanding that I have developed in order to help build something beautiful.

As I sat in the crowd seeing a man sharing about Freedom Road, the amazing work that Winnipeg Harvest is doing, and compelling and leading people to take responsibility, I was struck. He is using the gifts and passions that God gave him to change his city and community. This of course, is not COMPLETELY outside of our world view. We often look to popular musicians, actors, etc. as leaders and social leaders.

However.

On my way into the concert I ran into an old friend who was taking an evening to relax away from the three children that her and her husband just adopted. THREE KIDS! She is a teacher, and when I reflected on her and her husbands life changing decision I am once again compelled by the way that they are leading and compelling people around her to see the needs of her city and community.

Both of these people demonstrated leadership in very different ways.

The question of what it means to be a leader is often forefront in my mind as I work for an organization which is all about calling and equipping young people to lead…

What does it mean to be a leader?

Can anyone be a leader?

In an intriguing article, David Zwieg investigates the people in organizations he deems as ‘the invisible’. These are not people who are doing more mundane task or are perhaps front line workers. These are individuals in management positions whose desire for recognition differs from the average person. This challenges the common understanding of striving and reaching for authority and recognition (read more at: https://hbr.org/2014/05/managing-the-invisibles).

I believe my understanding of leadership is changing from the typical characteristics of: confrontational, authoritarian, competitive to the characteristics I see in Mary (and yes, Jesus also).

This time of year I think the story of Mary is pertinent. Mary by all accounts was not meant to be a leader. Being a young women in her historical context put her quite low in social status. Yet, we see that by her saying ‘yes’ to God she leads in her own way, and (regardless of ones beliefs) has quite an impact on the world.

One can still lead with competence, authority, and a desire to see things happen and yet be humble, compassionate, and loving. If people were more focused on who they are instead of who they want to be, I think that the world would be full of highly capable, life filled leaders. This does not mean they would be standing in front of a crowd (it could), maybe it means that they invite others to love children the way they were meant to be loved, or even to lay your life TOTALLY DOWN trusting that God will care for you.

The question that I want to begin asking not only the students and staff I work with, but also my self when discussing leadership is:

Who has God created you to be?

Luke 1:46-55(ESV)

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Advertisements

Even So

Even so Lord Jesus come.

This was the first thing that came to me as I sat down this morning with my coffee and bible, for my daily devotion.

Even so Lord Jesus come.

It is a line from a song that I grew up singing in my church community and felt random this morning.

Even so? Even so of what?

I think Jesus was reminding me this morning that despite my weaknesses even so Lord Jesus comes, that despite of others around even so Lord Jesus comes, that even though I don’t understand the reason or purpose even so Lord Jesus comes.

I find this Kingdom truth comforting, that despite the weaknesses and arrogance of myself and others, that Jesus comes. I find it encouraging when I think of systems around me that I don’t understand (church, government, etc.) that even when systems are broken Lord Jesus comes.

I found that as I went out about my day whenever I was faced with something that I did not expect or want to deal with, I found that when I reminded my self even so Lord Jesus comes I actually was encouraged and chose to move toward the ‘hard thing’. By believing that Jesus will come regardless of myself or others, it moved me to a action with a deeper contentment and peace.

Running with Rabbits and Chasing Coyotes

Change is difficult.

Moving is hard.

New people, new traditions, new culture, and new land.

In the midst of transition, I am thinking a lot about ways to accept and mourn the things that are changing and perhaps lost. It is important to grieve friends, places, memories, and anything else that is left behind when we move from one place to another. However, with this mourning I am also developing a sense of the need to celebration and develop a love for the ‘new place’.

Hence the joy I felt as I ran through the beautiful property that I am now able to call home. I feel a connection with the horses as they watch me with caution and curosity, I feel excitement when I see a coyote and chase him until I lose sight of him in the dull colors of my new praire home, I feel hope as I run with a rabbit that seems to almost encourage me to go faster, and finally I feel a sense of trust in God.

Even in this new place, the promise of God’s faithfulness comes at me in waves. I think this is one of the essential ingredients to help Kathleen and I remain excited and positive as we navigate the ‘change’ that we are currently walking, living, working, and being in.

Saying this, even with the challenges presented by change, the act of ‘change’ is needed. I think that an integral ingredient in the life of a disciple of Jesus is the act of following Jesus’ call. This looks different for everyone, however the base of the call on everyones life I believe is to pursue Jesus and who he made us to be. When we choice to pursue Jesus, this often results in changes or invitations to move toward the unknown.

This is where I find comfort when I am able to relax and not be overwhelmed, even in the midst of change and displacement, we can find Jesus right there with us. Encouraging us to continue to move toward him, because as we move toward him, entering into all the change around us, we learn more about who Jesus is and deepen our relationship with him, ourselves, and those around us.

New Beginning, New Adventure, Same Call

Friends and Family, I am excited to share that Kathleen and I will be moving in September. I will be remaining with Inter-Varsity (Kathleen will join staff) as we move into the camping division taking on two full time year round program director positions at a Circle Square Camp in Wolfcreek, Saskatchewan (http://csranch.ca/wolfcreek/). Kathleen and I have said ‘yes’ to the invitation and feel that God has called us both individually as well as together. We are quite hopeful and nervous for this new adventure.

Kathleen and I will be coming along side the current executive director Robin Exner, his wife Barb, and their 4 children. During the non camp months Kathleen will be focused toward Year Round Ministry (rental groups, etc.) and I will focus on staff and camper follow up. During the summer months Kathleen and I will share the role of program director with a special emphasis for Kathleen on administration.Picture 4

It was shortly after Kathleen and I met, that we quickly realized our shared passion and love for summer camps. We’ve spent many date nights over the past 5 years sharing crazy ideas, visions for summer camps while continuing to seek ways to stay connected to the camping community. We both felt God’s call for us when Inter-Varsity shared with us their vision of the impact and the direct influence the camping ministry has on thousands of children every year. My original desire in working for Inter-Varsity was to offer better follow-up for staff coming from Summer camps back to their home communities. Both Kathleen and I strongly believe in the many benefits of summer camps and are very excited to be begin this journey.

Founded in 1985, Wolf Creek Circle Square Ranch was created as part of the Crossroads Christian Communications TV program called Circle Square, which originally aired on TV in the 1970s. In 2011, five Circle Square Ranches became part of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, which also owns and operates four Pioneer Camps across Canada. As many of you know Inter-Varsity has been providing summer camps and year-round programs for children, youth, young adults and families since 1929.

Over the past 30 years, Wolf Creek has welcomed more than 15,000 campers to the 160 acres set in the vast prairies of Saskatchewan, taking them back to the old west with the western hotel and Conestoga covered wagons. Wolf Creek offers many activities including horseback riding, swimming, wall climbing, high ropes, archery, BMX biking, open kayaks, campfires and Bible studies. Wolf Creek also provides a wide variety of seasonal activities with bookings available September through June for conferences, retreats, family getaways and school outings.

If you want more information about this move and new adventure please contact me. I would love to share more!

Religious Social Capital

Religious networks are sources of high social capital which formed along side the influence of theological and religious belief, creating an inherent emphasis on bridging the social capital developed to the communities around the religious network, resulting in civic engagement.

Simply put, social capital can be categorized as the ‘resource’ developed within a network of individuals whom interact and trust one another. Practical examples of social capital manifested on a micro level are examples such as: neighbors borrowing a cup of sugar, lending a vehicle to a close friend, etc. Examples on the macro level can manifest themselves as: rules of driving, holding the door.

Bridging means individuals moving beyond the boundaries of their ‘home’ network, and moving toward networks different and outside of their normal social network. The opposite of bridging is bonding social capital. Beyelein and Hipp (2005) describe bonding as “Bonding social capital consists of network structures in which connections are primarily or entirely among members of the same group (p.996).”

The form of civic engagement emphasized within this paper was volunteerism because of the high levels of volunteers involved in religious networks (Schneider, 2007; Beyelein & Hipp, 2005). Mechanisms which encourage the bridging of social capital from religious networks were identified as: Intentional teaching, the empowerment of the individual, and meaningful/trusting relationships. The inherent mechanisms analyzed which hinder the bridging of social capital were: ‘Strong’ social ties, bonding social capital, and fearful holiness. The nature of bridging religious social capital is very much a paradoxical understanding, however this approach is meant to give different language and insight to individuals who wish to engage the world to help connect and support all people.

Seeing Beyond The Storm

Breaking up with your significant other, stresses at home, fight with a friend, fight with a parent, loneliness, uncertainty.

In my 6th year of working, walking, and guiding high school students I have watched many engage and experience real moments of hardship. Sometimes this hardship is self-imposed, imagined, or produced from external sources. However, it always feel like a personal storm. Often out worlds stop and the only that we can focus on is the storm raging around us.

Of course, not only high school students have the ‘privilege’ to experience storms. It has been a challenging process to sit in seemingly impossible circumstances and offer hope and optimism.

Jesus-calms-the-storm-sisters-turvey-abbey-216x300I am struck by the story of Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41). Here we have the disciples some of whom are professional fisherman, the boat and water would not have been foreign to them. However, a great storm arose, Jesus obviously quite tired and quite relax slept on a pillow. The disciples struggled all night, and when all seems lost they awoke Jesus questions his care. In response to the disciples he calms the storm and asks “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Of course, the disciples knew nothing of Jesus ability to calm storms, however I do.

Questions worth pondering:
As I encounter ‘storms’ where is my faith?
Where are my eyes focused? Are they looking at the waves crashing around me or at the sleeping man in my boat who is able and willing?

Combating Individualism

Indifference. Entitlement. Lack of empathy.

These are buzz words that I often hear when the media refers to todays youth. Often I hear comments like: “Todays youth are more entitled and indifferent; they simply “don’t care”.”Now of course these are sweeping statements, and while it is not the WHOLE and TOTAL truth there is still a little truth to it.

Individualism I believe is the base level character flaw that feeds those previously listed. I define individualism as: The lack of ability and desire to see the other.

North American society with the influence of technology, increased affluence, post-modernity, and specifically social media is becoming more of a individualistic society.

So as individuals involved in young peoples lives, how can we encourage/equip those whom we are blessed to lead to become aware of the other? I am sure there are many answers and potential ‘solutions’, however I have observed a two powerful ‘tools’ that can help young people move beyond seeing only their little world.

friday-night-lights

One is emotional maturity/awareness. Working with youth, our expectations of the emotional maturity/awareness must be tempered. The simply reality is that many youth are still developing, their brain quite literally changing. Therefore, expectations must be adjusted. The best way to help young people develop emotional maturity/awareness is to first: BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM. Second: Help them interpret what is going on for them, help them understand what they are feeling, and then begin the process of figuring out WHY.

The second tool that I think is helpful is ownership/empowerment. Ownership and Empowerment go together because when one occurs the other is often present. In order to see the other, care and compassion must be present. When youth take ownership of something, their level of caring increases. You can often see this in sport teams. Sense of ownership is hard to develop when their isn’t empowerment occurring. What better way to combat indifference or individualism then to get young people involved and give them responsibility.

Not all young people are indifferent. I have worked with many selfless, compassionate, and caring students who inspire me to move towards the other. I am consistently inspired by the bravery and ability for students to have compassion for their peers. So perhaps the above tools (emotional maturity/awareness, ownership/empowerment) are important for people of all ages. We must first look at ourselves, and then move toward those whom we lead and enter into the messiness of their lives to help them better understand the way that God sees the world (Leviticus 26:11-13).