Monday, January 31, 2011

Stupid Cow: Famous Dairy Farmer

Here is a funny story from my Grandfather's dairy farm. At dinner with my grandfather, I had an important question. "Why did he name a cow stupid?" I knew all the cows had names. 'Stupid' was, well... a stupid name for a cow. Laughter erupted around the table at my question.
Confused, I explained myself. Earlier in the day, in the milking barn, I watched the cows exit. One of the cows tried to go out the wrong door, a door much to small for a cow. My grandfather yelled at the cow, "Wrong door stupid!" I assumed the cow's name was "Stupid." Embarrassed, I realized my perception provided a wrong interpretation.
How many famous dairy farmers can you list? It is not a job that leads to fame. The day starts around 4:30am and cows have to be milked every day of the year. Not much time to do other stuff. My grandfather was not famous, he was a godly man who:
  • Delighted in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1)
  • Worked hard
  • Loved his wife for 60 years
  • Loved his family
  • Prayed for lots of missionaries
  • Stayed faithful for over 90 years

Some impressive stuff, But recently I learned my grandfather

  • Travelled the world visiting and encouraging missionaries
  • Was president of the board for the Harrisburg Youth for Christ six times
  • Started a Good News bible club in a black neighborhood during the 1950's
  • Helped start a church
  • Was a great neighbor
  • Donated the meat from at least 100 cows to an organization ministering to international students at Syracuse University
  • Taught hundreds of people in Sunday School classes

My perception of a godly man who was a dairy farmer totally missed the point. January 17, 2011 John Hertzler, my grandfather, passed away at the age of 94. An ordinary man living a day at a time for God, producing an extraordinary life. He achieved very little fame in this life. But I know he is getting all kinds of attention in heaven from the people impacted by his life. Not bad for a dairy farmer.

Now Hiring!

What if for 3 months your typical work day looked a little like this? Prayer meeting with staff 3 buffet meals praise & worship Beach, boats, blob Dune Hikes S’mores around the fire Trail Rides Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Summer staff at Grace Adventures has all of those things. We can guarantee your summer will be fun but not necessarily easy. You will be stretched and challenged in your faith and as a person. At the end, you will know that you’ve been part of making a lasting impact and eternal difference. At Grace Adventures, we’re in the middle of staff hiring for summer 2011. We are looking for staff that are dedicated, caring, sensitive, and trustworthy and want to minister to God’s kids. We desire to equip today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. That’s why we run 11 days of intensive staff training with continued training through the summer. Another key component is our core leadership staff that mentor, encourage and support summer staff. We believe in investing in our staff so they can invest in others.
We are hiring for a variety of positions: • Cabin counselor • Ranch counselor / Wrangler • Worship leader • Program specialist • Food service • Office registrar • Maintenance • Media specialist • Camp store • Health officer If you are interested or know someone who would be a great addition to the Grace Adventures team, send them to our website or have them contact Ben at 231-873-3662 or ben@graceadventures.org. Come join the staff at Grace, where everyday is an adventure!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Think You Are Too Old To Be A Youth Leader?

Does age matter in leadership? Most younger people say no, even young people can lead. Can you be too old to lead though? What about leading youth today? Can you be too old then? How come you almost never see senior citizens leading a junior high youth group? I have. It was awesome. This last weekend at our Winter Blast at Grace Adventures, we had over 10 churches from all across the mid west attend an incredible retreat. The highlight for me was not the speaker or the band (who were great), but an elderly couple who looked very out of place at first. Ed is 77. Ed has Parkinson's disease. He and his wife were the youth group leaders for their church and were attending this retreat with a whole gang of teen and preteen students. As you watched closer though, Ed and his wife weren't out of place at all. These kids loved them. They had a open door into the kids hearts and minds as well. This older couple sang the LOUD songs, played games, and Ed even climbed our climbing wall!!!! What an inspiration. Here's where it gets cool though. Ed and his wife are not only leaders of youth. By setting the example of being willing to serve where ever God would have them, they have inspired and challenged a generation that is largely absent in youth ministry. Listen to Ed's heart as he wrote an e-mail to the Grace staff after the weekend.

Hi Abby Thank Everyone for a great weekend. Our kids really enjoyed it. Nan and I were a little embarrassed by the age thing. I know what pastor was trying to tell the younger leaders, you don't have to use age as an excuse to quit. We don't feel old. I've always told people that age is in the mind and heart until the LORD tells us differently. He may have been trying to tell me something on that wall Sat Night when my right leg wouldn't go the extra three inches. The Parkinson's is only on the right side. We hope to see you next winter good LORD willing and I plan to do some more snow shoeing and training and see if I can get to the top.

Also we don't have a problem with anyone using it (our story) if feasible to try to get more elderly people involved with young people. I know in our case we are often their sanctuary. Many weekend we have kids at the house, we play games, watch movies etc. Were on a small lake so in the summer they all come and swim, fish and of course eat. We can't do things like we use to, but, we can be their for them and we all have so many things to offer and so much to learn from the kids. Example, I've always disliked Rock Music I was talking to my oldest grandson (Jr at Grand Valley) about Christian Rock one day and my dislike of it, as most of the time, the music was so loud you couldn't hear the words to the song. He said Grandpa that's not music it just noise when it's like that, but I know you like music because you rock and bounce to it a lot. So move with the rhythm, but listen to the words as most of them have a good message. SO with that attitude I've come to really enjoy most of it and even clap and rock, but I haven't convinced most others my age to do the same. I guess they just like there rocking chair. Anyway again Thanks for a great weekend. GOD BLESS. Hope to See you Next Year. Ed And Nancy

God Bless you Ed and Nancy, and Rock On!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fuzzy Reality

Does an American Idol contestant really believe he can impress Jennifer Lopez by going shirtless. Even more perplexing, Randy what are you thinking?
It seems like a new reality TV show starts each day. There are literally hundreds of them now. Who watches Meerkat Manor, Parking Wars, and Airline Repo?
Reality used to mean what is real based on fact. Now it means whatever I show or tell you based on my perceptions. So we have one wannabe and two old guys lifting their shirts and Jennifer Lopez wondering what just happened. Everyone wants to define their own reality to the great confusion of everyone else. It would be entertaining if this was just left to TV and Youtube. But in everyday life people live in a made up world, ignoring reality.
A true leader does not convince you their reality is the best to gain the most followers, though it does appear to sell well on Youtube. No a true leader discerns reality and helps us navigate through it. Discernment is a lost art or gift. We can all practise a little more discernment. I would hope it takes little discerning to realize a 60 plus year old out of shape guy should never lift his shirt in public.
It may be harder to discern some one's motives and determine what is really happening in a given situation. Leaders can have discernment or rely on someone who does have it. Either way you will have a difficult time seeing through our fuzzy reality without a heavy dose of discernment.

Lessons are better caught than taught

We have a saying around Grace that lessons are caught not taught. What we mean is that how we conduct ourselves must reinforce what we say about ourselves. If we talk to a school group, college, or business about character qualities of a leader, and demonstrate a lack of those character qualities we have undermined ourselves. However, we can use this principle to our advantage as well. If you want to see a behavior in a group of people you're leading, you have to model it. A lazy person cannot inspire discipline and hard work. At my church one of our pastor's and his wife have decided to adopt a baby. The catch is this child is HIV positive. They explained the process of how God has led them to this decision. They asked a doctor to come speak to our church about the realities and myths of HIV. I have to tell you I am completely humbled and confronted by their obedience to God in this act of love to a young girl from another country who would be dead by 5 if not for their decision. It is easy for a pastor to preach about getting outside your comfort zone, loving the unlovable, and trusting in God. Actually demonstrating it in a radical way is one of the most powerful sermons I've encountered in a long time. So what does the team your leading lack? What do you feel like you've praying they would do more of? Have you been leading by example? What responsibilities do you not like to do? Is that trickling down your organization or team?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is a first follower

No I'm not talking about your first follower on Facebook or Twitter. As a leader do you understand the importance and role of a first follower.
What is the difference between a leader and an eccentric?
If you are a leader the most important person to help get action in a group of people is the first follower. Consider the situation. You're at a play and at the end you feel like it was a great play. So you stand up and applaud. Are you a leader yet? No, you're just a single person standing and clapping. Anybody can go off half cocked and do something different than the norm.
Now the other people in the room aren't so sure it was a great play. They are a little nervous and anxious because it's getting awkward that only this one weirdo is clapping. Then all of a sudden another person stands up and claps... the first follower. Now the ice has been broken it is okay for others to clap and a wave of standing applause erupts. As humans we look to each other for validation and permission of our actions. If nobody else is doing something we're hesitant to do it. As a leader you may have a conviction, but if nobody else has that conviction how do you get people to follow you? Get a first follower. When people see somebody else doing it, they will follow.
After first followers come early adopters and then the multitudes.