Categories
golf management Marketing

3 Qualities of Successful People

Photo by SearchNet Media via Flickr (Creative Commons)
I have a lifelong obsession with golf. It started in 2nd grade when my parents scraped together enough money for a starter set and a series of playing lessons at a local par 3 course. Even though neither of them were serious players– I guess they thought I’d enjoy it. And I did. A lot.

Don’t read that the wrong way. I’m not a country club kid. I’ve never belonged to a course where I got my own locker or had an account on file with the restaurant.

Instead, I grew up playing city-owned munis and family-owned courses. In middle school, my first membership to the local golf course cost my family $50. That also included an annual pool membership, ice rink membership, and anything else the Mishawaka Parks Department charged money for. I didn’t grow up playing with kids named Chip or Trevor. We were more of an Adam, Mike, and Tim kind of crowd. But golf was my obsession. All summer long, every day, I play 27, 36, or 45 holes of golf.

Here’s what I learned about success in golf that translates to life: We don’t have equal access to success

One fact that I love about golf, especially professional golf, is that anyone can become a professional in 7 days. Unlike any other professional sport on the planet I can start on Monday as a nobody and win a million dollars on Sunday. Just about anyone can enter a qualifier. And if you manage to qualify you are in the same tournament as the card carrying professionals on Thursday. And if you make the cut on Saturday, then manage to win on Sunday– they will hand you a big check and a Tour Card for the rest of the season.

Fat chance trying that in baseball, football, or basketball.

But that almost never happens. While there are several PGA Tour members who rose from poor backgrounds to earn their card on Tour I can’t name a single person who is currently on Tour who started as a Monday qualifier and turned a good 7 days into a career.

It can happen, but it is nearly impossible.

Instead, if you look at those who made it, you’ll see that their success is a combination of 3 qualities.

  1. Talent – Talent is the constant. Talent is the difference between learning skills well enough to be pretty good and being a winner. Over the years I’ve played with and coached hundreds of people. But when you walk the course with a person who has a natural talent for the game… it’s amazing. Most amazing is that these players can rarely describe to you the mechanics of what they are doing. They just try stuff and it works.
  2. Ambition/hard work – Talent isn’t enough. I’ve met plenty of talented players. Each high school team of 12-15 young men had 3-4 players with enough talent to take them to the next level. But if they aren’t single-focused enough they won’t advance in the game. An ambitious person never stops practicing. They putt in their living room. Hit wedges in their backyard. Keep a 7-iron and a bag of balls in their trunk to practice between meetings. They play 9-holes before work and chose vacations with great practice facilities.
  3. Environment/resources – This is the X factor. This is the difference between a good local golfer and a professional. They have access to amazing resources. In most cases, their family has invested in them from a very young age. They played in expensive junior tournaments. They have great equipment. They have great coaching. And it results in opportunities to get to even better tournaments, more finely tuned equipment, and the best coaching.

You can be pretty good, above average, with two out of the three. But you’ll never be excellent. There are millions of guys putting their clubs in their trunks right now who have endless talent and ambition but aren’t in the right environment with the right resources to make it to the next level. And this weekend will be full of guys who pull up their Mercedes at a country club, with access to the best environment and resources and absolutely no talent for the game.

I don’t care about golf. What does this have to do with you or me?

We each have something we were created to be amazing at. There is something in our lives that we have talent, ambition, and resources to be the best at.

Identify that thing… no matter how obscure the niche`… and you’ll find the success you know you deserve.

Categories
Christian Living

Fire is Free

Photo by Harsha K R via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I was listening to a message by Rob Bell a few years ago and someone posed the question to him, “Why do people drive for hours to be a part of Mars Hill.” His answer was profound and simple: “People will drive from miles around to see what’s on fire.

Very true, isn’t it?

When I read the book of Acts I am sucked into the story of both the fire God started and the massive attention that fire drew wherever the Apostles traveled. Sure, there was spectacle on the day of Pentecost where God dropped tongues of fire on believers as they were indwelled with the Holy Spirit.

Yet they only grew by a few thousand that day.

By the end of Acts there were tens of thousands of believers. (Maybe more?) They had unleashed a virus of forgiveness of sins and restoration of relationship that the Roman army couldn’t stamp out. By Acts 28, what started as a small fire in Jerusalem was spreading. God had captured hearts whereas other gods and kingdoms tried to capture their bodies– and the Romans simply couldn’t shut down a virus that spread with love.

Because of the division between Luke-Acts we lose sight of the resolution of the story of Jesus’ ministry. While the credits roll and Easter is celebrated at the empty tomb, the story isn’t over!

The story is really just beginning.

It was a virus so strong that within three centuries it would topple the most powerful and dominant empire the world has ever seen.

The empty tomb is the climax. But the unleashing of God’s people by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are the resolution.

Why did Jesus come to earth? Surely, to seek and save the lost. Surely, to make a way for salvation of all who seek him. Of course those are reasons He came to earth.

But it was also to unleash a fire through his believers that can’t be stopped.

For 2,000+ years the fire has burned as the only hope of the planet spreads. While evil has appeared from every direction over millennia the fire has spread. Even as martyrs were literally burned at the stake they passed the flames on with their love. The fire is shared from father to son, neighbor to neighbor, classmate to classmate, and homeless man to executive.

A lot of people I know are disappointed in God today. A new year has dawned and they look at the resources they have available, they scratch their heads, they look at the agenda God has laid on their heart, and they cry silently– God, there is no way I can do this with the resources I have.

Unfortunately, too many of my friends in ministry woke up this morning wondering if God has still called them to a life in ministry.

To both, I have this simple reminder from Acts: Fire is free.

The great Hope of the world flows from the pores of our weakness. While we may be depressed by a lack of resources or even a lack of a job– be encouraged the your greatest calling spreads fastest through people with no resources, no stock piles, and nothing left but a flickering flame.

Categories
youth ministry

Beg, Borrow, and Steal our Retreat!

That’s the goal of our high school ministries Winter retreat.

I’m not talking about a cash neutral event to the youth budget. I’m talking about… we’ve got no money so we need to do this retreat for free. We don’t have budget money and our students literally have no cash to offset expenses.

Here’s what we’re trying to do:

Create a memorable, kinetic, outside-of-our-neighborhood, experience with our high school group. We need this retreat. It’ll be good for the students and it’ll be good for the group.

Here’s how we’re going to do it

Beg: I’m not too proud to beg. Especially when it comes to the faith development of the students in our ministry. Fortunately, when it came to location, I didn’t even have to beg. I just asked a Kingdom-minded friend if we could crash his youth building for 30 hours. When I visited Danny Long earlier this fall and saw his facilities (about 30 minutes from City Heights, but far enough into East County to feel completely separate from the urban environment.) I asked if it might be a possibility to use his building for a retreat. Without flinching he was happy to do it.

Next up, Kathy (our youth pastor) asked her cousin to lead worship. Done. Teaching? I’m pretty sure we’ll split those duties. Now we’re out begging for folks to pick up the tab on our Costco run for food for the retreat.

All that’s left is to beg off some programming elements. One of the tricks I learned from retreat-guru Lars Rood [author of an upcoming YS book on doing ministry for cost-neutral or free] was to not skimp on experience. So we are officially on the lookout to bring something to this retreat that our students from City Heights completely unexpected. (Horseback riding, sledding, paintball, or something along those lines.)

Borrow: We’re going to borrow ideas. Darn near all of them. Why spend all the time thinking up stuff when we can take things people are already offering for free and tweak them to work in our ministry/ From activity ideas to theme to kitchen appliances.

Steal: OK, we’re not going to steal anything. But we are stealing victory from the enemy by doing something we can’t afford for free. We might not be a resource rich ministry, but we are a resourceful group who aren’t ashamed to rely on the Kingdom.

Have you ever done a ministry event like this? If so, leave a comment and share your idea. [So I can steal it.]

Categories
Christian Living Church Leadership

The Power of Calling

Yesterday, I spent some time thinking about the calling of Abraham and Moses. (Genesis 15; Exodus 3) I was comparing the discomfort those men went through as a result of their calling to a community and the relative ease with which I question my calling to the community I live in and the work God has clearly called me to do at YS.

Why am I so quick to question while they spent decades grinding out their calling?

I’m glad I spent time with Moses and Abraham yesterday. I somehow associate “being called” with “being easy.” It reminded me that being called somewhere brings great pleasure, but also involves sticking it out through times of doubt, turmoil, angst, and pressure.

A few week’s ago I ruffled some feathers with a post called, Youth Workers: Don’t Punk Out. I’ve known too many people called to a task but have given up for a different task. They will wrestle with the guilt the rest of their lives. They will work out justifications that make it sound like they weren’t “running to Ninevah” but in their hearts they know they are just trying to save face when they need to repent.

God may bless them in other capacities but the guilt of their mistake will always haunt them.

When I think of Moses and Abraham I think about their contemporaries. Certainly, God called other men and women living at the same time to do things. But their stories didn’t get recorded in history. Why? Did they cower? Did they hide from their calling? Certainly, they didn’t outshine Moses or Abraham.

The thing about being called to a task in life is that you know you are called. Hence the phrase calling. Calling implies that their was an invitation and a RSVP to that invitation. It was sent and it was received. You know you’ve been called because you answered the phone! God asked you if you’d do it and you willingly (and maybe with much trembling) said “Yes, Lord I hear you. I will do that.

You will know you have been called when the power of the calling exhibits itself

  • Calling haunts you.
  • Calling wakes you up early in the morning and lays your head down late at night; it provides more energy than sleep.
  • Calling and vocation are two different things. Calling isn’t about a paycheck its about the reward.
  • Calling applies in every context you find yourself in. You can fulfill your calling living next door to your mommy, and you can fulfill your calling living in a third world country.
  • Calling and longsuffering are kissing cousins.
  • Calling can release you; it can spit you up; it can drive you to madness; but it is unchanging and seeming unchangeable.
  • Calling is affirmed by people in your life and by results measured in Kingdom impact.
  • Calling is about short-term suffering and long-term rewards. Abraham’s descendants are numerous beyond belief. Moses faithfulness to God was only surpassed by Jesus.
  • Calling looks like foolishness to some.
  • Calling isn’t something soft. If you’ve been called you know it. You might not be able to articulate how you were called but if you were called you would know it.
  • There is general calling, we are all called to love God and love others. And there is specific calling.
  • Calling releases energy, resources, and results that defy the laws of economics and physics.
Categories
NYWC

Cultivate Leaders in Tough Times

A few weeks back I talked about a quick trip I made up to Irvine to do a video shoot with Dave Gibbons, pastor of Newsong Church. I was privileged that he made time for me and thought enough about YS to share some thoughts about why a youth ministry training event is still important even when times are tough financially.

Even in the best of times church decision makers wrestle with continuing education dollars. It’s so refreshing to hear senior leaders who understand the value in training and encouragement from people in your tribe. If you’ve never been to NYWC… there is a magical component when you meet hundreds of other youth workers and you have an instant bond. The community of a shared burden and experiences is so renewing!

p.s. Random sidenote. Check me out! This video is well lit, in focus, and I even did a quick sound check before we began.