11 Rules for Leading Teams

Lessons I’ve learned to get the most from a team while doing the least amount of damage in the process.

I have had the pleasure of serving under some great leaders and a few not so great leaders. (Yes, even serving under a bad leader can be a pleasure if you learn from it and apply what you’ve learned to how you lead.)

Looking back over the many leaders I have served under, I have compiled a list of eleven things that I have learned and that I try to apply to the people I lead. (I say try because I know I have failed many more times than I have succeeded.)

1) Stay calm.

As a leader (You could also insert Husband or Father here.) you live in a fishbowl. Everything you do (and feel) is seen and magnified. That means that when you’re at a six people will perceive you at an eight, which will usually push them to a ten or worse, they’ll overload and burnout. (The truth is no matter where you are your team will probably think you’re at an eleven.)

Bonus Thought: You may feel like you do a good job at hiding your emotions, but you’re human so you probably don’t do as good of a job as you think. Because of this, it’s important to have people around you that will speak honestly and directly to you and help reel you in.

2) Be present

Both physically and emotionally. An absent leader may think they are communicating trust in their team but what they are really communicating is “what you are doing is not that important to me, and since it’s not important to me, it’s not important to the organization.”

Bonus Thought: If the leader is not present how can they see the great things their team is accomplishing and give sincere and generous praise? (see point 10)

3) Don’t try to be Omnipresent

You can’t be everywhere and in everything. You’re not God. (though I have met a few leaders who think they might not be God but they’re the next best thing, but that is a whole different post.) Trying to be involved in every decision is called micro-managing. The only thing micro-managers create is exhaustion. They exhaust themselves and their team.

4) Engage

Don’t just ask for reports, engage in a conversation. Don’t just ask what decisions where made or what was done, ask why. Engage in the thought process. Learn what is making your team tick. This will not only give you information, it will give you understanding of the different personalities and talents of your team and will add value to them. (Unless of course you do nothing but tell them the way they should have done it or how YOU would have done it.) See #8 for more on this.

Bonus Thought: As a leader, you probably have a million plates spinning all at once. So how to you decide what to give your attention to or engage with at any given time? You give it to what is in front of you. There is nothing more frustrating to a team or team member then when the leader who is with them physically isn’t there emotionally or mentally.

5) Give freedom

I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure that when a Pyramid was finished in Egypt, the builders didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment or pride in their work. Why? Because they weren’t builders, they were slaves working under task masters.

Hopefully you’re not a task master and you don’t see your team as slaves. Give you’re team ownership of what they are doing. You can and should set parameters, but let them run in the boundaries you set. Let them work freely in their passions and with the natural gifts they have.

6) Trust

If you can’t trust a team member to make good decisions or accomplish the job they are given, then maybe they shouldn’t be on your team at all. See #3 (Of course, the problem could be that they have not been given the tools or training they need to accomplish what they have been given to do. This isn’t their fault, it’s their leaders.)

7) Cast vision (constantly)

Teams don’t just need to know what needs to get done. They need to know why they are doing it. However it’s not enough to communicate the “big picture” of the organization, teams also need to understand the importance of what they are doing and how without it, the “big picture” can’t be accomplished. (One of the quickest way to lose a valuable team member is to make them feel that what they are doing is not important or they are just “spinning their wheels” with busy work.)

8) Correct and train

Mistakes will always happen. But they will keep happening if they are not corrected. No one wants to make a mistake, and a person can’t correct a mistake if they don’t know they are making one or why they are making it.

The only way to keep a team member from repeating a mistake is to train them on how to do it right.

9) Manage pace

There will be times that you have to push your team. Deadlines are a real thing. But, If the leader has done their job, they have built a team of incredible people who not only believe in what they are doing, they believe in you and your goals.

Passionate people push. They sacrifice. They work hard. They love what they do. A leaders job is to know where their team is, what they are doing and when they are doing too much. A great leader will help motivate their team to get things done the best way they know how but should also strive to keep them healthy.

Not everything has to get done now or tomorrow. A quick way to burn out a team and the families of a team is to allow them to push themselves beyond what is realistically possible.

Bonus Thought: Nothing worth doing is worth doing fast. Anything great takes time. A leader that loses sight on the pressure their team is under is not leading well.

10) Be sincere and generous with praise

Everyone needs affirmation. Everyone needs to know that what they are committing their time and lives to is noticed and appreciated. Always look for ways to praise your team or team members. But not just privately, publicly.

But it needs to be sincere.

Praise for the sake of praise or as a motivational tool is not really praise, it’s flattery. It’s meaningless or worse, it can come across as belittling. In order to be sincere in your praise you need to have a real understanding of what is being accomplished. And you can’t do that if you’re not present (see #2) or engaged with your team. (see #4)

11) Make failure safe

A team that is afraid to fail will be afraid to innovate. Sometimes doing the same thing that has always been done is a good thing, but when it stops working you need people that are willing to take risks and change. People won’t be willing to try new things if they are afraid of the consequences of failure. Remember the response of Thomas Edison when he was asked about his many failures while inventing the Light Bulb: “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Final Bonus Thought: If you are leading well then the people you are leading are not only doing a great job, but are becoming better leaders themselves. This means that more then likely they will grow beyond what they are doing for you.

This is a GREAT thing.

This is why leaders should not see themselves as owners or bosses of a team, but as stewards. Stewardship is being temporarily responsible for something that is not yours. A good steward will strive to take what they are responsible for, and make it better.

(As a pastor I have the privilege of working with great teams of volunteers. The list above can absolutely be applied to leading unpaid volunteers, but if you work with volunteers on a regular basis you should also read: “4 Things Every Volunteer Needs to Keep Their Head From Exploding.”)

Choosing the Long Drive

A small loss for a big win.

I can get from my house to my office in about fifteen minutes. I can get back home in a little over twenty depending on the traffic. But every so often I take the long way home.

The long way is full of one lane roads, stop lights, slow drivers and low speed limits. If I hit most of the green lights I can make it home in around forty to forty-five minutes.

So why would I choose the long, seemingly inconvenient way home?

Because my wife and kids deserve to have me fully present when I get home. They don’t need to compete with the days frustrations, stress, unanswered questions and unfinished todo lists.

They deserve to have all of me the second I walk through the door.

The long way has become my “decompression chamber”. It’s my time to process through the days events, think about the questions I didn’t ask and plan for the things I didn’t get done. It’s also my time to pray.

I wish I could say that taking the long way home was my idea, but it wasn’t, it was my wife’s. She was the one who told me she would rather me be home late and present than early and gone.

So that’s what I do.

I choose the long way.

I choose to slow down my life for just a little bit, in order to give my family one of the greatest gifts a Husband and Father can give his family…

Himself.

Be Bold

It is a powerful thing to be confident in who God created you to be. To understand that you were created for a unique purpose. To boldly walk in the knowledge that the only person who can truly define who you are and what you will become is the Lord.

Well meaning people will try to “help” you discover your purpose. They will try to nudge you in a direction you should go… the direction they think you should go.

Don’t.

Be confident in who you are.

Be bold in the gifts and talents God has given you.

Don’t let people tell you who you are or what you were created to do.

Most of us can’t see past our own insecurities enough to adequately discover what the people around us where created for.

We judge each other based on our own abilities, style, opinions and purpose. And if you aren’t like us, we don’t celebrate it, we want you to change.

Don’t listen.

Be yourself.

Pursue what it is that God has called you to do, and do it with all your heart.

Discover your unique purpose.

You have nothing to prove.

Be bold.

My First Three Hires If I Were Planting a Church Tomorrow.

If I were planting a church tomorrow, these would be my first three hires listed by priority.

1) Children’s Pastor
I think this is the most important ministry of the church and if not done well will kill even the most organized church, well-funded church. (Keep the kids safe. Keep the kids having fun while learning about God. You reach the kids, you can reach the family.)

2) Communications Pastor
Yes, this would be my second hire. (If I had the money I would #1 and #2 at the same time.) We live in a world where right communication matters. Fortune 500 companies have been taken down by accidental Tweets, politicians have lost campaigns by one misworded email response, and 14-year-olds have started multi-million dollar global campaigns because they know how Snapchat actually works.

We (the church) have the most life changing message, but so often we don’t take the time to learn the best medium of communication, or what really needs to be said. (And no, you don’t HAVE to be on Tv.)

I think most of the time we let the cost (which is pretty minimal now) dictate priorities in this area and it kills us.

3) Executive Pastor
Most Senior leaders of any organization are usually great visionaries but are light on details. Having someone who lives for the details, someone who loves mapping the dots between A and B is essential.

BONUS HIRE: A good accountant.
It would be a good idea to have someone who understands budgets and say… tax law. You know, just to keep bills paid and pastors out of jail.

Great thoughts from my wife on Joshua 1

I love that the first nine verses of Joshua are like a locker room pep talk from God!! I just imagine God taking Joshua by the shoulders and looking him straight in the eye. Telling him to be strong and courageous… Giving him exact instructions and knowing exactly what to say to get Joshua right where he needed to be to take a leading role and take them to the next level! And I love that God put it here for us to experience all over again!!! Now it’s me He’s looking in the eyes and saying “don’t be discouraged, God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Read Joshua 1:1–9 here.

Choosing the Long Drive

I can get from my house to my office in about fifteen minutes. I can get back home in a little over twenty depending on the traffic. But every so often I take the long way home.

The long way is full of one lane roads, stop lights, slow drivers and low-speed limits. If I hit most of the green lights I can make it home in around forty to forty-five minutes.

So why would I choose the long, seemingly inconvenient way home?

Because my wife and kids deserve to have me fully present when I get home. They don’t need to compete with the day’s frustrations, stress, unanswered questions and unfinished to-do lists.

They deserve to have all of me the second I walk through the door.

The long way has become my “decompression chamber”. It’s my time to process the days events, think about the questions I didn’t ask and plan for the things I didn’t get done. It’s also my time to pray.

I wish I could say that taking the long way home was my idea, but it wasn’t, it was my wife’s. She was the one who told me she would rather me be home late and present than early and gone.

So that’s what I do.

I choose the long way.

I choose to slow down my life for just a little bit, in order to give my family one of the greatest gifts a Husband and Father can give his family…

Himself.

Be Bold, Quit Worrying About What Other People Think

It is a powerful thing to be confident in who God created you to  be. To understand that you were created for a unique purpose. To boldly walk in the knowledge that the only person who can truly define who you are and what you will become is the Lord.

Well meaning people will try to “help” you discover your purpose. They will try to nudge you in a direction you should go… the direction they think you should go.

Don’t.

Be confident in who you are.

Be bold in the gifts and talents God has given you.

Don’t let people tell you who you are or what you were created to do.

Most of us can’t see past our own insecurities enough to adequately discover what the people around us where created for.

We judge each other based on our own abilities, style, opinions and purpose. And if you aren’t like us, we don’t celebrate it, we want you to change.

Don’t listen.

Be yourself.

Pursue what it is that God has called you to do, and do it with all your heart.

Discover your unique purpose.

You have nothing to prove.

Be bold.

Goodbye My Old Four Wheeled Friend



When I was fifteen my parents gave me my first car. It was a Saturn. I loved that car. My brother and I shared that car, had fun in that car, and if I’m totally honest, abused that car. (We were teenagers, that’s what they do.)

So ten years ago when my wife and I needed a new car, I saw another Saturn and I knew I had to have it. And again, I fell in love with that car.

It was the first car we bought with our own money. The first car we picked out at a dealership. The first car that we spent hours sitting with a salesman negotiating a price. The first car my wife and I paid off together.

It has taken us on more road trips then I can count. My brother drove my 8 month pregnant wife the LONG and UNCOMFORTABLE drive from Orlando to Dallas while I followed them in a moving truck. We slept in that car when there were no available hotel rooms on that same trip because they were all full of people displaced from their homes after Hurricane Katrina.

I drove my first newborn daughter home from the hospital in that car. (Another very long trip even though we only lived three miles from the hospital… new Dads always dive extra slow on that trip.)

I have probably spent more money on repairs to the car then I actually paid for the car. And I imagine the amount of money spent on that car is numerically equal to the amount of times I have defended that car to my wife when she (wisely) wanted to replace it with a more dependable one.

I loved that car.

But the time has come to say goodbye. I told my wife that I would drive it until the “wheels came off”. Well, almost 200,000k miles later, I practically have.

It has been a hard decision for me. The car actually died a few months ago and has been sitting in my driveway since. I know it still has some miles left in it, and someone with the know how will be able to fix it up and use it. Unfortunately I don’t have the know how and my wife does not have the patience. So we made the decision to say goodbye.

Even after we made the decision, I have been hesitant.

Until last week.

Last week there was an unsolicited knock on our door. It was a young couple with two kids that are the same age as our two youngest. They saw the car sitting in our driveway and asked if it was for sale, and if so for how much. They were looking for a second car, didn’t have much money to spend, and didn’t care if it ran or not. He was a mechanic, he can fix anything.

I waited a week and then called him back. He missed my call and when he did call me back he apologized for calling so late, but he and his wife were in church, “praying for a blessing”. (He has no idea that I’m a Pastor)

I told him I did not know how much of a “blessing” it would be, but if he wanted the car, it was his, he could have it.

And so today, when he gets off work, he is coming over with a trailer to take it away.

I was thinking last night and wondering why saying good bye to this car has been so hard for me. It’s just a car. But as I thought more about it, I remembered a commitment my wife and I made when we were first married to never miss a Tithe or ignore a chance to give, even if it was a little, when the Lord prompted us to. I also remembered all of the times we had to decide if we were going to pay the car payment or another bill with the little money we had left any given month. But even though we only had the money for one, God would always provide for both. We never missed a car payment and we have always been able to pay our other bills.

God always provided what we needed when we needed it.

The “Sermon On The Mount” has always been my favorite teaching in the Bible, and Matthew 6:31–34 has always been a foundation for me and has given me great hope:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

So after today, we’ll be down to one running car. Can I replace it? Not right now. Do I have a plan? Not really. Am I worried? Not at all.

That car is more than a car. It is a blessing from the Lord. And now that car is going to be a blessing for someone else.

So, with all that said, today, with a heart full of joy and peace, I say goodbye to my old four wheeled friend.


Niles Holsinger is the father to three, husband to one, Pastor at Gateway Church, and Director of The World Prayer Team.
You can learn more about Niles at
http://NilesHolsinger.com, connect with him online on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or subscribe via email here.

On Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

We journey through life collecting all sorts of little facts. We learn all sorts of lessons. We gather all kinds of experiences. But that is not wisdom, that is just knowledge.

WISDOM comes when we take all the knowledge that we have accumulated, all those lessons we have learned, and APPLY it in a positive way to our lives. Knowledge is just accumulation. Wisdom is the application.

Three Lessons I Learned in Twenty-Fourteen

2015 has already started out as such a whirlwind, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to take a breath. But I did take a few moments to identify the three greatest lessons I learned in 2014 so I could write them down, apply them to 2015 and share them with you.

They’re pretty straight forward, but I can assure you, learning them was a whole lot harder then writing them out.


Lesson One: Live simply.

Forgive when your wronged. Love even when it hurts. Seek out the best in people. Don’t spend so much time on how things could be, simply look at how they are and seek to make them better.

I spent 2014 trying to simplify the things in my life. Some things I’ve done have been very practical like making lists, focusing more on the majors then on the minors, and controlling both the mental and physical clutter in my life.

The goal really has been to cut out the things in my life that may be GOOD things, but aren’t GOD things.

You can read about what started this task of simplification here. I’ve also written a few other articles in this same vien and posted them here.


Lesson Two: Anything worth doing is going to be hard… and may come with some disappointment.

In Luke 14 Jesus talks about the importance of counting the cost before making a big decision (He specifically talks about building a tower, going to war or becoming His disciple).
But why? Because we need know the reality of what we’re getting into, and the reality of building a tower, winning a war or becoming a true disciple is it is going to takes time, hard work, and it won’t always go according to plan.

They’ll be setbacks, they’ll be days you have to recalculate or re-plan. And they’ll be days you just want to shut everything down and quit.

But the hard work will (eventually) pay off. And let’s be honest, if the things we are committing to are easy, they are probably not worth doing.

Having a great marriage is hard work.

Raising kids who grow in character and love God is hard work.

Pressing in and praying until you see a breakthrough is hard work.

But it’s worth it.


Lesson Three: It’s easier to give advice then to live by it.

As a pastor, I give lots of advice. I tell people things like “Trust God”, “God is faithful”, “God is your provider, not man.”

But last year came with some personal setbacks, some hurdles that I had to overcome. There were many times where I wanted someone to tell me the things I’ve told others.

But the truth is, I don’t need them to. Because all those things I tell others to encourage them are not just “feel good” sayings. They are truth, and my God is bigger and more faithful then any problem I could ever face.

I don’t need someone following me around all day long looking for opportunities to encourage me when I’m down. What I need is to keep myself connected to The Lord. I need to remember that I need his presence like I need oxygen.

I need to remember to live by my own “advice”.


Niles Holsinger is the father to three, husband to one, Pastor at Gateway Church, and Director of The World Prayer Team.
You can learn more about Niles at
http://NilesHolsinger.com, connect with him online on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or subscribe via email here.

On Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

We journey through life collecting all sorts of little facts. We learn all sorts of lessons. We gather all kinds of experiences. But that is not wisdom, that is just knowledge.

WISDOM comes when we take all the knowledge that we have accumulated, all those lessons we have learned, and APPLY it in a positive way to our lives. Knowledge is just accumulation. Wisdom is the application.

Camouflage Glasses


This may be the best conversation I’ve had with my five year old son to date. The kid cracks me up.


Cameron: “Your sunglasses look like mine.”

Me: “They do? But mine are camouflage.”

Cameron: “So are mine!”

Me: “No they aren’t, they’re Micky Mouse sunglasses.”

Cameron: “Yeah, and if I was standing next to Micky Mouse they’d be camouflage.”


I love being his dad.

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)


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on July 7, 2014.

You Know We Can See That, Right?

Guys, you do know that all your friends on Instagram and Facebook can see every image, video or article you “like”, don’t you?

Maybe you didn’t know that’s how it worked. Maybe you didn’t know that on the same account that we see you post how much you love God, your wife, your kids and your church. The same place where you post your favorite Bible Scriptures, pictures of your bible study notes, the small group lesson you’re about to teach, or how you can’t wait for worship this weekend, we also see every inappropriate picture or video you “like”.

Maybe you didn’t know that, or maybe you do and you just don’t care. But you should care. Because it’s a problem. Because just like the pictures you post are a window into your life, this content that you are looking at and endorsing with your “likes” is a window into your heart. And maybe you’ve convinced yourself that’s it’s “not a big deal”, “It’s just Instagram, it’s not like I’m looking at porn.”

Well, you’re wrong. It is a big a deal.

Here’s something else you may not know, it’s hurting you. It’s hurting your marriage. It’s hurting your testimony. It’s hurting your ministry. It’s hurting your potential to reach the people around you. It’s hurting your relationship with God. It’s only getting bigger and it’s won’t just go away on it’s own.

I’m not judging you. I’m concerned about you. I’m trying to help you. I’ve seen too many men lose too much, because of something they thought was so little, that became uncontrollable.

So stop right now. Take a minute and listen to the Holy Spirit. Is this for you? That offense or anger you may be feeling right now may not be anger at all, but loving conviction from the Lord.

Repent. Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask Him to free you. Call your Pastor, a church leader, a mentor or a friend that won’t judge you but walk beside you through this process of freedom. (And if you are married, let them help you talk to your wife)

And then, delete your Instagram or Facebook. It may seem extreme, but I can assure you that what you are gaining far outweighs what you are losing.

Today could be the best day you’ve had in a long time.


Originally published at nilesholsinger.com on September 10, 2014.

A Conversation on Fatherhood in the Middle of Walmart

This morning I’m picking up a few things from the store with my Daughter Dylan in the shopping cart. As I’m grabbing what I need, I’m approached by a young man, hat cocked sideways, Vanilla Ice looking stripes shaved into the side of his head his under his hat, wearing a t-shirt of some hip-hop group I’ve never heard of walks up to me and just starts talking.

This is the actual conversation we had:

Him: “How old is she?”
Me: “Six Months.”
Him: “She’s cute.”
Me: “Thanks man.”
Him: “I got a little girl on the way. My girl’s six months pregnant.”
Me: “Man, that’s great! Congratulations! Little girls are awesome, she’s gonna change your life.”
Him: “I know, It’s crazy. It’s a big deal. Wasn’t really planning on it. Don’t think I’m ready.”
Me: “We’re never really ready. But you’ll be fine. You’ll do a great job.”
Him: “Yeah, I’m just too young though. I’m still a kid.”
Me: “How old are you?”
Him: “Twenty-Three.”
Me: “Nah, You’re not a kid.”
Him: “You know what I mean. I still feel like a kid.”
Me: “You may feel like a kid, but you’re not. You’re a man, and you’re about to be a dad. You know the difference between a man and a kid?”
Him: “What?”
Me: “A man takes responsibility for his actions. He steps up even when he doesn’t feel like it. You seem like the kind of guy who’s gonna step up. I can tell. You’re gonna be a good Dad.”
Him: “I just don’t know what to do.”
Me: “Man, I’ve got three kids and I still don’t know what to do!”
Him: “For real!?!”
Me: “Seriously! I’m still figuring it out. But you don’t really have to
know a lot. Ninety percent of being a Dad is just being there. The worst thing you could do is nothing.”
Him: “Well, I’m not gonna leave. I’m gonna take care of her.”
Me: “I know you will. But here, take this. (handed him my business card) That’s got my number and email on it. When you do feel like quitting, and you will, we all do at some point, call me.”
Him: “Ok, thanks, I will. (looks at card) You’re a Pastor? (gets an embarrassed look on his face).”
Me: “Yeah, don’t hold it against me. (My daughter starts crying) Alright man, I gotta go. She’s getting crazy. Seriously call me if you need anything.”
Him: “I will.”
Me: “(As I’m walking away) Oh hey, one more thing. Do you have a job?”
Him: “Yeah, kind of.”
Me: “Kind of? You probably need to get a job. Kids are expensive.”
Him: “(Laughing) Yeah that’s what I hear! Thanks!”

I’m not sure how it is I tend to have so many conversations like this in the middle of the most random places. Maybe I just need to open a church in a Walmart.