Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

Starting Your Day

May 6, 2016

I’ve recently been slipping into the habit of reading the local newspaper first thing when I get up. Reading the Bible or other inspirational literature is better. I know it–intellectually. But the news is a quick read.

But then my thoughts turn to how the Republican Party could find itself in such disarray. Except that its own intellectuals have been writing for years about the impact of its policies on the widening income gap and how that surely will manifest itself in the anger of people, although socially conservative, angry at being left out of the economic pie.

And the along came Trump.

Well, that thinking can start a day off wrong.

Then there is the inordinate attention paid to athletes.

I think about spiritual formation. Sometimes that begins with people formation.

Elite athletes are picked out almost always by Jr. Hi. They are bigger, faster, skilled. Once picked, they are told that if they excel at their sport they’ll be millionaires. They are pampered. Given jackets and shirts and stuff under the table.

Some are elite enough to get a college scholarship. Some from the college ranks are elite enough to get huge contracts right away. Some are just under that elite of the elite. But still part of that personal development system. The system that usually looks the other way when some problem crops up.

Some (many) just don’t seem to understand the reason to develop as people, too. Where was that great mentor?

Today I read about a guy who tweeted he was going to get a try-0ut with the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s a chance at living the dream and making enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

Except, oops, a bullet-riddled car involved in a murder case shows up at his house. Is he trying to hide evidence? Or tamper? Or what? With everything to gain, why get involved in a homicide for pete’s sake.

Every day a new story. Pampered kid doesn’t understand consequences of stupid actions.

When are we as parents, coaches, churches, community going to devote ourselves to the personal and spiritual development of our youth? It’s not only the parents’ job. We all need to be aware of the people around us and try to help.

The loss of human potential is beyond sad.

Dangling Conversations

February 2, 2016

My friend Jim Pinto is an engineer, so he always researches and sometimes overthinks things (as a reader of this blog, does that sound familiar?). He was raised as a Catholic in India. Gives him a perspective on life that I find valuable.

He recently became bored with adult conversations at a gathering. Ever happen to you? Adults usually talk about other people. Or, as they get older, they talk about themselves–their medications, ailments, aches, doctors.

I know that conversations are not listed on Richard J. Foster’s exhaustive list of spiritual disciplines. Think about it for a minute. Are there not times when you could steer conversation intentionally toward new ideas? Toward growth moments? Or even toward spiritual life?

Another friend recently received a cross about two feet high to place in his yard from his church. The idea was that it could be a conversation starter. Someone walks by, sees the cross, asks about it, and you have an opening to talk about church and life with God.

I should mention that he lives in a retirement community in Florida. The first person who walked by asked, “Aww, did your dog die?” The second person asked if someone was killed on the road in an accident. Oh, well. Nice try.

Anyway, back to Jim. Remember him? He was bored with adult conversation and did what I like to do–go talk with the kids. They are enthusiastically learning new things and sharing them. Life is an adventure to them. They get new ideas, try them out, explore them.

Jim things that the generation of teens today (whatever label marketing people are giving them) will change the world for the better. I told him that that’s just what people said about us–the Boomers. We only sort of did that. But the majority also were the “Me Generation” and we can see that in everything from politics to fashion.

I hope he’s right.

But I began to wonder–how many Millennials (say 20 to 35 years old today in my terms) are there in your church? How many are you nurturing? In my case, none. That’s not good.

Then, how are you relating to today’s teens? Are you nurturing and mentoring anyone that age?

I sense that is the task of older people. A generation of church leaders sprang up against much opposition to reach a younger population (think Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley). Are those churches still relevant to the next younger population? Is yours?

Bet we have work to do.

Character Development

May 18, 2015

I spent all weekend at a youth soccer tournament. Players ranged in age from 8 to 18. Parents ranged in maturity from 2-yr-olds to mature. Typical spring in Ohio, as well as much of the US.

My job was to recruit referees and assign them to games. I devoted many hours last week doing both of those. 

During the tournament, I check to assure that all the referees showed up and to cover for those who didn’t. This was a great weekend. The only problem was one I created by not doing the proper math about when one game ends and when another begins and how far the fields were from each other. I started the game as referee and then turned the game over to the assigned guy. 

That’s because once the tournament play begins, I become the appeals court for referee problems. I travel from field to field watching and evaluating and giving tips for improvement to the entire group of referees. I also travel around settling disputes. 

Sometimes referees need some extra instruction. Or I have to move them around to avoid situations. Sometimes coaches or parents get into arguments and I try to settle things down.

It is a joy in life to contribute to the development of so many young people. I have devoted the last 25 years or so developing young referees. They may not always last as referees, but through the process, I try to teach them life skills of observation, decision-making, handling people, confidence, and communication.

The most gratifying thing in these tournaments is the development of coaching. Coaches used to know little about the game, didn’t teach anything during practice and then figured they could get the kids to do what they didn’t teach them simply by screaming at them–and at the referees.

Now, I see coaches teaching basic skills, then team building skills. They give instruction during the game instead of berating the kids. Sure, they get upset with some calls. We all do. Sometimes I do even when I’m evalutating a referee. That’s life. The bad coaches are becoming scarce.

We need to practice this same character-building effort in the rest of life. Is there a child or young adult who could use a mentor? Intentionally seek out people like that. Invite them for coffee or lunch. Build a relationship and nurture tham. I have few greater joys in life than seeing people grow.

Have you found a mentee today?

Leaders Build a Great Team

March 27, 2015

Good leaders build a product at a profit; great leaders build a great team.

A great team fits together seamlessly. Each member knows and is great at executing the assigned role. Yet, each member knows and believes in the goal of the organization. The leader need not look over the work of each member in minute detail. 

In this situation, the leader is free to fulfill the role of leader.

  • Reinforce the vision to avoid “vision leak”
  • Be aware of the “big things” so that the little things go the right direction
  • Encourage each team member in growth and development of skills
  • Groom the next generation of leaders
  • Watch the details so that actions may be taken immediately upon changes in external or internal environment

Have you ever been part of such a team?

If you have, you will never forget the feeling. You actually enjoy work. You enjoy relationships with the team.

I have been on both–this type of smooth functioning team and dysfunctional teams. But mostly the latter. So much so, that a friend suggested I write a book on dysfunctional leadership. 

Someone asked me recently about an area where I am leading currently. What should I be doing? I answered, finding a younger person to replace me and then mentor them to grow into leadership and commitment to carry forward (and grow) the mission that I’m on.

Organizing–that’s what I do. It’s second nature by now. Looking out at opportunities for new things–I think about that often. Finding and grooming  a replacement? That is my challenge.

Whatever your challenge–whether it be lack of sufficient trust in your team members to let them be free to do their jobs and suggest improvement areas and new directions or whether it is a state of mind where you feel compelled to watch over everyone’s shoulder–recognize that as a weakness. Then go to work on it. Find a coach to help if necessary. There are many of us out there more than willing to help people grow.

The world does not suffer from an overabundance of good leadership. There’s room for one more.

Leaders Empty Your Cup

February 27, 2015

Andy Stanley, founder and pastor of North Point Community Church in suburban Atlanta, thinks and communicates leadership as well as anyone speaking today.

He participates in one of those huge, fill-the-arena leadership events that tours the country. I’ve actually spent the couple of hundred dollars to sit in the cheap seats and watch.

Some of his latest thinking focuses on enabling the next generation of leaders. He calls it emptying your cup. You need to share all you know with the next generation. Not all they need to know–something you probably can’t fulfill. But all you know.

Here is a video clip that is actually a teaser for the Leadercast program. But it succinctly captures this one idea.


A Call To Men To Be Clear

February 23, 2015

Adam should have spoken up. He didn’t. We’re all screwed.

That is the problem statement of “Men of Courage” by Larry Crabb and others. Men are too often silent when they should speak up.

I had the privilege of working as part of a small team of local men who had an idea for a men’s conference. Call to Convergence was held this past weekend. We had no clue how many men would show, but we picked 75 as a good target number. 70 registered. It was a good weekend.

Our principle speaker used that book as the starting point of his talks. Men are called to speak up, to share. Maybe not sharing every emotion like women seem to be wired to do. But, as one person said after the Friday night talks, it’s all about transparency. Not hiding.

The solution part of the book calls men to mentoring. We are called to intentionally find someone who could use a mentor and take action. Invite someone for breakfast or lunch. Ask. Listen. Guide. Help them on their journey.

By the way, we live in a small county. Population of about 56,000. To have 70 people come out in the snow was a great blessing. We all felt that the event wasn’t about us, but about God. And God blessed the gathering.

Men asked about what to do during the year until we have the second one. Always a great sign when people ask for action steps.

Reading the Bible

By the way, you might want to re-read the story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the metaphorical tree.

When we read the Bible (or anything, really), often we let past memory guide us and fill in the blanks, so to speak. Did you realize that Adam was present during the whole episode? Not my memory either. When I read it later after learning about the story, my memory took over and I didn’t read the passage clearly.

The passage clearly implies that Adam was right there. It doesn’t say that Eve went to him sometime later. It says she turned to him and offered him the fruit. Adam heard the whole conversation. Surely he knew better. But he didn’t speak up.

Two lessons:
Speak up when you see someone going off the path.
When you read the Bible, clear your mind and read what it really says.