5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity During December

Here we are again. It’s December. The blog posts are fewer, the tweets are less consistent and my email response time is probably at an all time low. If you’re in creative ministry, this is crunch time. It gets no busier than this! So, how do you deal with the busiest time of year without feeling like ground beef come December 26th? Here are 5 things that should help a lot…

– Plan WAY Ahead: If you’re just now planning out your 5 Christmas Eve services, when and where to place the Kids Choir in your service and what to do to make your stage look “Christmasy”, you’re in deep junk! Though it’s probably impossible to wrap everything up in November, you should have a working “model” of your Christmas services and all that goes with them before the first snow hits the ground.

– Use Your Team: You have a team right? Use them! There’s no reason for you to be the “line up maker/set designer/video editor/light hanger”. If you’re doing it all, you’re doing yourself, your church and your family a disservice. Lean on the giftedness of the people God has placed around you.

– Take a Day Off: Yep, you heard that right. In the middle of the busiest time of your year, schedule an extra day or two during the month to call your own. Even when things are at their craziest, you can always look forward to that day of rest. I took just such a day on Monday and it has completely refreshed me!

– Focus Harder on Your Family: You’re not getting out of December working a 40 hr. work week. You know it, I know it and your family knows it. That makes your time at home even more important. Remember, even though this is your busiest time, it’s also a special time for your family. Go the extra mile to make an investment at home.

– Prioritize: Easter isn’t until April! It’s nice to be ahead, but dialing in your focus will benefit you a lot this month. Put off what can be put off, delegate what can be delegated and take on only what you MUST take on.

Anyhow…these are some things that I’m working hard to utilize this month. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

Jake

090813_jake_paikai

Back in the day, before I was in arts ministry full-time, Christine and I had the chance to serve as youth directors at a small church outside of Tacoma, Washington. It was our first time working with High School kids, but we loved every minute of it. Among those kids was a gifted teenager named Jake. I came across this article about Jake from KOMO News in Seattle…Life is quite a bit different for him today. Please read his story and add him to your prayers…thanks!

_________________________________________________

By Elisa Jaffe

Watch the story

PARKLAND, Wash. – Overweight and overwhelmed, a 22-year-old student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma is afraid that without intervention, he’ll die. But his mother’s health insurance won’t cover gastric bypass surgery – a pricey procedure that the family can’t afford on its own. And now he’s hoping that the generosity of the community will help where insurance won’t. Jake Paikai weighs more than 600 pounds – but since he doesn’t own a scale big enough to handle his weight, he doesn’t know how much more. His best guess is 650 pounds.

His mom, Mimi Sprinkle, says he’s always been a “chunky little monkey.” “He never had a chance, never had a chance,” she says. Jake can’t reach his own shoes, sit in most chairs or fit behind a steering wheel. “I can’t drive, I can’t go on planes, I can’t step on a bus – very few cars I can ride in,” he says. Jake’s mom drives him to class at Pacific Lutheran University.

Mimi says she knows what it’s like to be morbidly obese – she weighed more than 500 pounds before her stomach stapling. “Every night I go to sleep, and I wonder if he’s gonna be there tomorrow,” she says. Jake also worries that tomorrow might not come for him. “You know, I really can only go about 20 feet before I’m completely winded,” he says.

Together with his friends, he’s asking for the public’s help. They’ve launched a Web site called mybypasssurgery.com, which they hope will help raise tens of thousands of dollars to help Jake and others who need similar surgery. “I need help. Others need help. Let’s do something about it,” Jake says. His mom told KOMO News, “We’ve got great insurance, and it’s not covered.” At college, Jake has a 3.9 grade point average, but weight stands in his way of bigger dreams. He doesn’t just want to walk – he wants to run, with the same kinds of hopes and dreams other folks have.

Most patients pay between $50,000 and $80,000 for a gastric bypass. So far, Jake has raised about $2,800.

10 Things I’m Convinced Are True

10

Straight talk is better than beating around the bush.

Ministries falter when they become more concerned with popularity than their God given mission.

Insisting on having all original ideas is a pride issue. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there…use it!

Creativity is a gift from a creative God. Leveraging that creativity for the gospel is putting the arm of God in motion.

God doesn’t give fuzzy vision. If you’re not clear where God is leading your organization, you’re probably missing the obvious.

Offering anything but our all is short changing God.

Striving towards your God given vision is going to make some people unhappy…count on it!

People will disappoint you…and you will disappoint people.

If you don’t care about what’s happening outside the 4 walls of your church, I can promise you…you’re missing the call of God.

You can’t lose momentum if you’re striving passionately towards the vision.

Who’s Your Tonto?

lone_ranger

The Lone Ranger had Tonto… Batman had Robin. Lavern had…well you get the idea. Having a trusted companion is everything in ministry. Having a source you can be accountable to, share your heart with, be corrected by and spill your guts to is vital to staying the course. For many years I struggled in this area. Not because there were a lack of qualified “confidants” around me, but simply because I was too arrogant to enter in to this kind of relationship. Over the years, this approach failed me on more than one occasion.

Today is different. I work in an accountable staff environment, where we hold each other up and lean in to God together. I have a great friend, who I meet for breakfast every week, who’s not afraid to ask the tough questions. And thankfully, that big spiritual “chip on my shoulder” was removed the hard way by the hand of God.

If you’re in ministry (or even if you’re not), I can’t begin to stress the importance of having a trusted companion. I’ve lived both sides of this equation. We ALL need to be accountable. We ALL need someone to encourage us, challenge us and…yes…correct us when it’s needed.

Who’s your Tonto?

Oh How I Wish…

wish

For the last few nights, I’ve had the chance to lead worship at “In Siouxland For Good”. It’s 4 days where Jr. High students dive in to serve around the community, plug in with one another, have fun and meet God in worship. I wish all of us would respond to God the way these kids do. I wish we would serve outside the walls of the church. I wish we would engage those around us with a genuine heart instead of a self-righteous chip on our shoulder. I wish we would pour out our lives in authentic worship to God every moment of every day instead of putting on “the act” every Sunday morning. I wish we would drop our hang-ups, baggage, preconceptions and selfishness so we could simply meet with God the way He intended.

More importantly…I believe God is wishing for the same things. He has designed us to be in communion with Him. Yet, time after time, we insist on being a roadblock on our own journey towards His presence. Maybe the key is found in a bunch of Jr. High kids who are making a difference by leaving there garbage at the door and engaging God…Oh how I wish we would do the same.

10 Things I Have A Lot of Respect For

10

People who disagree with a ministry decision I have made and actually connect with me to talk about it.

Pastor’s who allow their creative team to create effectively by continually clarifying the vision.

Artists who know how to express themselves but also understand how to follow direction.

Leaders who say what they mean and back up what they say.

People who serve willingly with a smile on their face.

People who will give an honest critique instead of blowing smoke.

Musicians who enjoy the art of collaboration.

Creative confidence wrapped in spiritual humility

Churches that make a difference no matter the cost rather than counting the cost before trying to make a difference.

Transparency, transparency, transparency

Storms

storm

I’m becoming more and more convinced that the storms we experience in life come from multiple sources. There’s the “God breathed” storms…the ones designed to teach you something or move you towards a new direction. There’s the “Evil storms”…the ones satan throws your way to distract you and throw you off course. Then there’s the “self made” storms…the ones we stir up out of our own human stupidity. These are the worst of all. These are the kinds of fiasco’s that you look back on later in life (or later that week in some cases) and wonder what in the world you were thinking.

We are all just as susceptibleto these storms inside ministry life as we are outside of it. God desires to lead your ministry and He will do so by force (or a storm) if necessary. Satan, on the other hand, desires to demolish your work and will huff and puff with all he has to make certain you fail. It’s the human factor however, that seems to truly get in the way. Selfish decisions, short sighted vision, poor choices, divisive attitudes, pride, arrogance…all of these stir up the winds and the rains in our ministry and can ultimately lead to disaster.

The solution to the storm is found in the same place the disciple’s found it, out on a stormy lake, in an old wooden boat. Jesus is the hand that calms the storm. Sometimes we leave Him sleeping in the back of our ministries and forget that he’s on this journey with us. When the storm hits, we hurry to wake Him up so we can get us out of the jam were stuck in.

I wonder how different things would be if we didn’t forget He was there in the first place…just a thought.