Who Wins When I Win?

March 19, 2013

There’s something about winning that I just love. I tend to be a pretty competitive person just because I’ve felt winning and I’ve felt losing and I’ve decided I just really like the one more than the other! If you like the feeling of losing you may want to save yourself some time and quit reading now. This simply isn’t for you.

The assumption from here on is that you want to win. But what I’ve found in my context of full-time youth ministry over the last couple of years is that a “win” isn’t always straightforward. In fact, you can actually lose when you win. It’s all about this penetrating question of how you lead: Who wins when I win? (more…)


I Am The Older Brother

March 14, 2013

The other day I was listening to the podcast of one of my favorite preachers as he talked about his testimony. Matt Chandler was a drinking, partying, womanizing maniac. His story had it all. And we’ve probably all heard these kinds of testimonies before. Even though his message wasn’t about it, I couldn’t help but think of the parable of the prodigal son. Just like that son, Chandler had gone out and enjoyed “wild living.” Mulling this over, I began to come to a sobering reality: I am the older brother. (more…)


The Blessing of Obstacles

March 12, 2013

The other day I faced an obstacle in the publishing of my first book that nearly had me quitting on the project altogether.

While trying to get some endorsements from youth workers that I know and some I didn’t, I got back an email that hit me like a ton of bricks. It was from a representative of someone I was really hoping to get an endorsement from. The main reason was that I had actually used an acronym of theirs (with some slight adaptation) to use as a bounce-off point for my first 6 chapters. Getting this endorsement would be huge. What I did get was also huge, just not in a good way. (more…)


Jumping Off Roofs

March 6, 2013

This small snow storm we’re experiencing in my neck of the woods today has me thinking back to a bigger one we had in Pennsylvania when I was but a child. What a great storm! Not only big enough to get you out of school, but this weather system did us the favor of dropping snowflake upon snowflake until they’d piled up about 3 or so feet high. For a lively 10-year-old with his brothers who were probably about 8 and 3, this was truly a winter wonderland! But my mother had no clue what that would mean… (more…)


The Sinkhole

March 5, 2013

Last week the news told us of quite a uniquely horrible story coming out of Florida. A man was swallowed alive by a sudden sinkhole that came up from his bedroom floor. Without warning, the ground below collapsed and he fell many feet down with the rubble of the collapse falling on top of him. It’s one of those tragedies that’s hard to even process because of how strange it is. But I would argue that we see this happen much more than we realize in our everyday lives.

Every day it seems there’s a new story about someone who’s personal lives have now collapsed and eaten them, their friendships, their career, or their family…alive. It seems, at first glance, that suddenly things just fell apart. And, in a sense, they did. Usually the actual collapse comes at a breaking point and is more absolute. But the process that gets people there is oftentimes rather slow and subtle. (more…)


God Save Us From the Basement Monsters!

February 26, 2013

Remember in Home Alone when Kevin was scared to go down into his basement? If you remember, it was because of this imagined monster that was down there. Really it was his furnace and nothing to be afraid of. And yet I can totally relate to Kevin! (more…)


The Life Found in Dead Space

February 22, 2013

Our church’s new pastor likes dead space. He’s comfortable with the silence.


Much more comfortable than I am. Like many people – I assume – I don’t much like dead space or silence or quiet. (more…)


Teens: 7 Ways To Keep Your Parents Off Your Back

February 20, 2013

After a couple of years in full time youth ministry I’ve figured out that teens don’t like having their parents on their backs. And that most parents don’t really make it their life mission to be a pain in the butt to their kids. (I know, rocket science here!) Usually it all boils down to misunderstanding, but sometimes you get to that after the doors have been slammed and the words have been yelled. (more…)


The Best Test For Success

February 19, 2013

Just recently I was asked how a particular youth service went. My answer was that it bombed. It happens. My friend was disappointed to hear that and asked what made it such a dud. While I could have listed the various elements that went wrong – and there were a number of them – I didn’t. Why? Because you can have plenty of elements go wrong in any project or, in my case, youth service and still have it turn out successful. Right?

Rather than recounting the various glitches of the night I explained it like this. I said, “At the end of the night I want the majority of students who were there to leave saying three things: 1. That was really fun. 2. That was really helpful. 3. I wish my friend had been here for this.” And, as I told him, I don’t think many people at all were saying those things after this particular night.

We’ll all have times that we feel like we missed the mark. Failure is just a part of life. (Even if it is one part we all wish we didn’t have to deal with so much!) But one thing that’s even worse than failure is not knowing whether you’ve succeeded or not. (more…)


It’s Not You. It’s Me.

February 14, 2013

You know how this works, right? The breakup is clearly happening. Explanations are being made. Excuses being dished out. The one person in the relationship is being saddened to find out that things are coming to a close. But never fear! The line comes out that makes everything better.

“It’s not you. It’s me.”

We all know that’s just a cheesy line that usually either means nothing or is actually a bold-faced lie. And so that’s not how I’d like to use that popular phrase for our purposes here. (more…)