Ken Nair on husbands being spiritually sensitive in order to spiritually lead.

If a husband is to be the spiritual leader, his spirit must be sensitive to spiritual things. He must be sensitive to God’s Spirit prompting his spirit. Before he can minister effectively to his wife, he must also be sensitive to her spirit. A man should become so alert to the spirits of others that he can discern the emotional state of another person-sometimes even over the phone. And when that happens, it has enormously positive effects on his marital relationship and on relationships at the office or factory, in his church, and in his neighborhood.

Source: “Discovering The Mind Of A Woman: The Key To Becoming A Strong And Irresistible Husband Is…” 

One of my favorite quotes via John Wanamaker…

“I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence.”

Learning to see circumstances in your marriage from God’s perspective…

Husbands don’t always know how to evaluate the circumstances in their marriages from God’s perspective, so they miss the opportunity to use those circumstances as building blocks. Few men know how to make the change from just seeing what is happening to also seeing what God is trying to teach them through what is happening.

Source: “Discovering The Mind Of A Woman: The Key To Becoming A Strong And Irresistible Husband Is…”.

Four Things Every Volunteer Needs To Keep Their Head From Exploding.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any church or ministry. But more times than not, for volunteers, what began as a work of passion, love and a heart to serve, ends with frustration and burnout.

I believe there are 4 things every leader can give his or her volunteers that would combat these results.

1) Volunteers need clearly defined and communicated EXPECTATIONS.

One of the most frustrating positions for any volunteer to be in, is when they find themselves serving in an “evolving role”, a role that seems to change every time they show up to serve. Clearly defined and communicated expectations (the what, when and where of a position) will solve this issue.

This may seem like an easy thing to do, but the number one enemy of a clearly communicated plan is an unorganized leader. I’m amazed how many times I have heard or said myself in frustration, “_________ never does what they’re supposed to do.” When, the person being referred to has never been told EXACTLY what to do. That’s not their fault, it’s the leaders.

(Ps: Clearly defined and communicated expectations will also answer the question, “How often can we ask a volunteer to serve?” Well, how often did you communicate the need to them?)

2) Volunteers need to be EQUIPPED.

I was very fortunate to serve under Dr. Edwin Louis Cole at the Christian Men’s Network.

One day he called me into his office and told me that I was now responsible for emptying his office trash can everyday. He then proceeded to walk me through the exact process he wanted done. He showed me how to take out the old bag, how to tie it up and where the dumpster was. He then showed me where to find the new bags and then showed me EXACTLY how he wanted the bag tied and secured to the trash can.

I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that he was being so precise and specific with his instructions, it was like he thought I had never emptied a trash can before or that I couldn’t figure it out on my own. But the reality was, even though I knew how to empty a trash can and put a new bag in, he wasn’t going to assume I knew how. He was saving the both of us from potential future frustration. (the fact is I had emptied a trash can before, but I had never emptied HIS trash can before, and he wanted it done the right way.)

Dr. Cole used to say, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” Basically, if you want something done right, you don’t have to do it yourself, but you are responsible for the training. To put it Biblically, “Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31)

3) Volunteers need to be EMPOWERED.

This is pretty simple. Create volunteer positions that can be “owned” by a volunteer. Don’t create a position that is so rigid, that the volunteer feels like if they make one adjustment or mistake it will ruin everything. Every volunteer position should have some margin built into it, that a volunteer who is passionate can add his or her own gifting and ability to improve what they are doing.

I firmly believe that ownership fuels passion, and when you’re running towards passion, you’re running away from burnout.

4) Volunteers need to be ENCOURAGED.

When I say volunteers need to be encouraged, I’m not just talking about telling them they’re doing a good job.

The most powerful way we can encourage our volunteers is to constantly communicate how the role they are filling is important to the vision of the organization. (and if it’s not, then maybe it a role you don’t need.)

Here’s an example. Take a person who works in the church nursery holding babies. Week after week they sit in a room rocking the crying babies of strangers, changing dirty diapers and constantly having their clothes ruined as they get spit up on. We could tell them they’re doing a good job and we appreciate them, and that’s good, but it won’t fuel their passion. But when you tell them about the couple who were on the brink of divorce, and that because the church was able to offer childcare at the marriage conference they didn’t have to spend money they didn’t have on a babysitter. And while at that conference they both recommitted their lives to Christ and recommitted themselves to each other, it’s not a stretch or an exaggeration to say that happened because YOU were willing to give up attending the conference yourself to take care of a strangers baby.

That’s the kind of encouragement we need to give our volunteers. They need to know that what they are doing is the work of God. That they are building His Kingdom. That what they are doing is AS IMPORTANT as the ministry that happening from the platform.

That is how a volunteer needs to be encouraged.

(FYI, I didn’t make up that scenario above, that actually happened, and stories like that happen every week, we just need to be intentional about bringing our volunteers in on the celebration)

These four things may not be the “end all” of working with volunteers or solving the burnout issue, and I’m sure you have some things you would add and I’d love to hear them, but I do believe it keeps the process heading in the right direction.

Volunteers are a treasure that need to be protected. And it’s our job as leaders to protect them, even if it means protecting them from ourselves and our leadership mistakes. (we all make them)

 

Tools of the Trade

I thought I might offer up a list of the tools I use on a daily basis to keep my life moving. To some it may seem like a long list, to others it may be lacking. (though, on occasion I may add a new piece of software here and there, but usually I end up ditching them for these trusty standards.)

Hardware: (Things you can touch, hold, tear, drop and break.)

Iphone– Always with me. Actually do most of my work on this.
iPad Mini– This has quickly become my “go to” piece of hardware. Love the size of the Mini. Take it everywhere (work related) with me. I’ve decided if I can’t do it on this… I’ll just figure out how I can.
MacBook Air– Favorite laptop ever.
Neuyear Calendar– Best wall calendar you can buy. Love the design/layout.
Action Journal– I’m 99% paperless in what I do (this was not an easy task to accomplish. Removed all paper and pens from my office for 2 months to make this a habit), but when the need arises, this is what I write in.
Bible– HCSB Version on my desk, NLT in my bag, NKJV & Amplified next to my bed. I’m always trading out on which version I prefer.

Software: (Things I run on the things you can touch, hold, tear, drop or break)

Evernote– This is my brain on tech. Everything goes in it and nothing gets done without it. It took me awhile to figure out the most effective way to use it, but the system I’ve used the last 2 years seems to work great. (I think I could probably teach a class on using this tool, but that seems like a lot of work since there is so much quality training already available.)
Logos Bible Software– Best Bible Software period.
IA Writer– If I’m not writing it in Evernote, I’m writing it here. (then transferring it to Evernote) I’ve tried several “distraction free” writing apps. This has become my favorite. (followed by Writeroom.) I write all my email newsletters, blog posts, notes from church services/meetings that I don’t want to use Evernote so I’m not tempted to work on other things. (writing this post in IA Writer now.)
WordPress– My preferred blogging/CMS system. Love working with it. (Tumblr is my close second on this.)
MS Outlook– Use this for church email/calendar.

Iphone Apps:

I have theory that a person really doesn’t need more than one screen of apps on there phone. Anything else is just distraction. (Seriously, take the time and see what apps you would keep if you were only able to use one screen hold them.)

Evernote– Same as above.
Logos– Same as above.
IA Writer– Same as above.
Tempo Calendar– The best calendar app I’ve found. Love how it handles appointments and MS Exchange accounts.
Buffer– Allows me to post to Twitter/Facebook/Google+ without falling down the rabbit hole of everyone else’s posts.
VSCOcam– Take/Edit all my iPhone pictures with this app.
Tweetbot– For when I want to see what my friends are posting. Love the way it handles Twitter’s lists function.
Instagram– Love this app, though it can be a bit of a time suck if I’m not careful.
Text+– Use this only to text with my daughter on her Kindle Fire.

Well, that’s about it. I’d love to hear what you think of the list above or get any suggestions you may have.

Tools of the Trade

I thought I might offer up a list of the tools I use on a daily basis to keep my life moving. To some it may seem like a long list, to others it may be lacking. (though, on occasion I may add a new piece of software here and there, but usually I end up ditching them for these trusty standards.)

Hardware: (Things you can touch, hold, tear, drop and break.)

Iphone– Always with me. Actually do most of my work on this.
iPad Mini– This has quickly become my “go to” piece of hardware. Love the size of the Mini. Take it everywhere (work related) with me. I’ve decided if I can’t do it on this… I’ll just figure out how I can.
MacBook Air– Favorite laptop ever.
Neuyear Calendar– Best wall calendar you can buy. Love the design/layout.
Action Journal– I’m 99% paperless in what I do (this was not an easy task to accomplish. Removed all paper and pens from my office for 2 months to make this a habit), but when the need arises, this is what I write in.
Bible– HCSB Version on my desk, NLT in my bag, NKJV & Amplified next to my bed. I’m always trading out on which version I prefer.

Software: (Things I run on the things you can touch, hold, tear, drop or break)

Evernote– This is my brain on tech. Everything goes in it and nothing gets done without it. It took me awhile to figure out the most effective way to use it, but the system I’ve used the last 2 years seems to work great. (I think I could probably teach a class on using this tool, but that seems like a lot of work since there is so much quality training already available.)
Logos Bible Software– Best Bible Software period.
IA Writer– If I’m not writing it in Evernote, I’m writing it here. (then transferring it to Evernote) I’ve tried several “distraction free” writing apps. This has become my favorite. (followed by Writeroom.) I write all my email newsletters, blog posts, notes from church services/meetings that I don’t want to use Evernote so I’m not tempted to work on other things. (writing this post in IA Writer now.)
WordPress– My preferred blogging/CMS system. Love working with it. (Tumblr is my close second on this.)
MS Outlook– Use this for church email/calendar.

Iphone Apps:

I have theory that a person really doesn’t need more than one screen of apps on there phone. Anything else is just distraction. (Seriously, take the time and see what apps you would keep if you were only able to use one screen hold them.)

Evernote– Same as above.
Logos– Same as above.
IA Writer– Same as above.
Tempo Calendar– The best calendar app I’ve found. Love how it handles appointments and MS Exchange accounts.
Buffer– Allows me to post to Twitter/Facebook/Google+ without falling down the rabbit hole of everyone else’s posts.
VSCOcam– Take/Edit all my iPhone pictures with this app.
Tweetbot– For when I want to see what my friends are posting. Love the way it handles Twitter’s lists function.
Instagram– Love this app, though it can be a bit of a time suck if I’m not careful.
Text+– Use this only to text with my daughter on her Kindle Fire.

Well, that’s about it. I’d love to hear what you think of the list above or get any suggestions you may have.

Come Holy Spirit

This week I am in London visiting Holy Trinity Brompton Church, the church that, as they say “discovered” the Alpha Course.

If your not familiar with the Alpha Course, you really should investigate it for your church, family, or neighborhood. It’s a program for unchurched people helping them to get answers to the meaning of life.

Since 1995, over 22 million people have gone though the Alpha Course with a countless number of salvations.

The amazing thing about Alpha is the single prayer and source of the programs amazing influence, “Come Holy Spirit”.

This prayer is at the very center of Alpha, and everything that Holy Trinity Brompton and it’s leaders do.

Such a simple prayer that’s filled with AMAZING power.

It’s amazing how much we try to do on our own, it’s even more amazing how surprised we are when the response to our own systems and plans make no difference in our life or the lives of the people around us. Yet this simple prayer and the spirit behind it takes whatever natural things we do and turns then into supernatural, world changing works.

I would challenge you, as I have been challenged this week to make this simple, authentic prayer a part of your everyday life.

Come Holy Spirit.

London Day 2

London Day 2

Great day in London today. Went to Holy Trinity Bromptom, pastored by Nicky Gumble and home of the Alpha Course. Always wanted to visit this church.

Such a great word on Grace, Love and Salvation.

“Cups are useful, but they’re not the water. But we sit around and argue about the cup when the world is thirsty for the water in the cup!”

Then attended my friends Rod and Julie Anderson’s church Common Wealth Church. Rod and Julie are legendary pastors and Intercessors, Rod was one of two men, the other was Dr. Cole who modeled how masculine prayer was. They are truly legends in the faith. Cindy Jacobs and her Husband Mike ministered, it was a powerful night of ministry!

London Day 1

London Day 1

Here’s a few pictures from wandering around London between landing this morning at 7am and when I could check into my hotel room at 2pm.

Some random scenes, a few neighborhoods and buildings I don’t know the names of, and the gates of Buckingham Palace.

Thirty-Three Percent

The Lord has been speaking to me over the last couple of months now on priorities. Specifically, my priorities, His priorities and if what I spend my time on match either one. (Spoiler alert, they don’t)

On the very top of my list, just under my relationship with God, is my relationship with my family. As I was thinking about this the other day, I took out a notebook and began to go over my weekly schedule. I wanted to figure out how much time I spent with my family a week.

33%.

That’s it. That’s the number I came up with. That’s all there is. That’s all the time my family gets from my schedule. Of the 168 hours in a week, my family gets 33% of my time. It’s not near enough. It’s not near what they deserve, so I better make the most of it.

Before you think I’m the worse Dad or Husband in the World, let me clarify a few things:

1) I only counted hours “with” my family that we were awake. You can’t really engage with someone while they are snoring. So I counted sleeping as “away” from my family.

2) As a Husband and Father, part of my responsibility is to provide for my family, which is what I’m doing when I’m at work, away from my family. And as long as I have boundaries in place that allow me to keep a healthy work/life balance, I’m not neglecting my family for work.

So now it doesn’t seem SO BAD… except that the numbers above are based on a good week. A week I don’t have evening services, after hours appointments, hospital visits, conferences our church might be hosting or anything else that may come up in a pastors schedule.

The reality is, it could be worst. (I’d imagine if we all looked at our schedules, we all ran the numbers, 33% might be on the high end.)

But here’s the real question. Of that 33% of my week that my family does get, do they get 100% of me? Or do they have to share their time? Do they have to share their time with things like the TV, my email, my list of things I didn’t get done at the office, my frustration from how my week may have gone, or anything else that would communicate to them that they are not really the most important thing in my life?

I may be with them, but am I really there? Do my kids know they have 100% of their Daddy’s heart? Does my wife know that no one compares to her? My words may say it, but does my time, focus and attitude?

These are some of the things I’m asking myself. These are some of the questions I’m committing my time to answering. These are some of the questions I’m using to help focus my priorities.

Are there any questions you need to ask?

Creating Silence

Creating silence in my life has become one of the most powerfully productive exercises I have ever established in life. It’s amazing how much noise surrounds us everyday, keeping us from really taking a breath and just think.

I can get more things accomplished in one day by just taking 15 or 20 minutes in silent thought then I can in a week without it.

It started for me six or seven years ago when I decided to turn off the radio in my car on my way to and from work. Just that brief time in thought helps me order my day and opens my ears to listen to what The Lord has to say about it. (Without interrupting Him with my “great” ideas)

Try it, It’s not easy when you start, but nothing worth doing is.

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Hey, I'm Niles.

I’m the Husband to one, Father to four, and Pastor of a unique congregation at Gateway Church.