How you do anything is how you do everything. That statement has been floating around in my brain for a long time. At first I disagreed, then I totally agreed, then I wrestled with it more. The reason I wrestled with it is because I didn't want it to be true. I didn't want to believe that I wasn't disciplined in all areas of my life. The reality is there are certain areas of my life that I struggle with being disciplined in. The more I was honest about my life I could see patterns develop. How I do anything is how I do everything.
When it comes to being healthy in all aspects of life, discipline plays a roll. If you want to be healthy physically you need to be disciplined with exercise and with what you eat. If you want to be healthy emotionally, you need to get plenty of sleep, have a community of people who love you and that you can be honest with. If you want to be healthy mentally you need to be challenging yourself, reading, learning, creating a healthy internal dialogue, knowing your identity and what you believe. If you want to be healthy spiritually you need to be in God's word consistently, pray constantly, practice fasting, taking time to be still and silent, listen to the Holy Spirit and surround yourself with people who can encourage and challenge you to be who God wants you to be. In all of those aspects of life it takes discipline. With each area of life, you are faced with choices to make to pursue health in that area. Those choices determine how you do certain things. I believe that if you make healthy decisions with one area that will help you make a healthy decision in all areas.
I am a walking case study. My diet has always been my achilles heal, Im not unhealthy but I am definitely not the healthy physical adonis that sometimes I convince myself I am. When life is stressful I have a decision to make, Oreos (anything sugary, fatty, etc) or no. For whatever reason I find comfort in comfort foods and that has been evident as I look back over my life. I have seasons of good decision making when it comes to my physical health. There have been seasons of consistent working out, running, eating right. In those seasons I have found that most other areas of my life are operating like they should as well; I am more patient, I spend more time with God, I am emotionally in a better place, I am mentally more clear and intentional. When life gets hard, busy, or not ideal is when the rubber meets the road for me. How I do anything is how I do everything. When I am disciplined in the area that has the most control over my life, the other areas fall in line. When I am undisciplined, I am undisciplined everywhere. Sure, it has taken my 38 years to figure it out, but I have. That doesn't mean I will always have it under control but it means that I know myself a little better than I did years ago and that will inform my future!
How self aware are you? This took me being really honest with myself to get to this point. I don't like admitting my flaws because I desperately want people to think I have it all together. The truth is, I don't. Every day is a new day for tough decisions, choices that will affect other people and other aspects of my life.
How you do anything is how you do everything... change my mind!
What areas of your life influence the other areas of your life?
I have never been a huge “outdoorsy” guy or someone who desires to rock climb, scale a cliff face at Yosemite or scale Everest. That kind of activity isn’t something that gets me going! I can totally understand why people love it. I am sure there is some sense of accomplishment by the actual physical activity but the real reward is making it to the top to see how far you have come. I have been to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Why would I climb to the peak when they have a perfectly good road to the top where I can drive and save myself the time? It was incredible to look out over miles and miles of God’s creation. Down the mountain you could see the lush green valley and the city of Colorado Springs. You could also see the Rockies as the mountain range stretched over miles and miles. That moment is etched into my brain, it was awe inspiring. We have these types of moments in our faith as well and they are so important. As a student pastor these mountain top moments may look different for you than it does for your students.
1. Mountain Top moments are when you feel close to God like never before.
Mountain Top Moments make you feel like you are really in the presence of our creator and king. These are powerful and life shaping moments that I believe God uses to give us an idea of whats to come!
I remember being a high school student headed to summer camp in New York. I remember the worship, “This is the Air I breath” was my jam. I remember the speaker, not his name but what he said challenged me to the core. I remember the decisions I made that week to change how I as going about my life. It was a pivotal week in my faith journey. It was one of my first mountain top moments that I will never forget.
2. Are you giving your students the opportunity to have mountain top spiritual moments?
Are you creating times where teenagers can get away from the routine of life they are currently in and spend intentional time with our Savior. We’re talking about Summer Camps, Missions Trips, Retreats, Get Aways, Discipleship Meetings, even regular church programming. These moments are faith-shapers. Teenagers need to know that the mountain isn’t forbidden, its attainable and all are welcome.
Obviously within these moments there is a place to teach, guide and shepherd. Some students feel loss when they lose sight of that feeling and those emotions. The truth is… its ok. It’s ok to feel different and not feel the same. The feelings are not what fuel our faith, its the experience that allow us perspective and allow us self evaluate. God uses that perspective to help us make necessary changes in our lives that propel us into greater knowledge and love for Him.
3. Are you planning for the moments?
Are you looking at your calendar and planning for moments, or times where you want to lean in a little harder to what God may be trying to teach the teenagers you shepherd? Your year starts now, it starts with a plan and ends with praying like everything depends on God (because it does).
What mountain top moments are you praying for this year??
I remember it all to well, the day my lead pastor walked into my office with an envelope in his hand. He asked if I had a few minutes to chat, which we all know is code for "you're screwed". He gave me the letter and let me read it. It was from an anonymous parent that was less than pleased with how things had went for their teenager in the student ministry I was leading. The letter was scathing, calling me names I'd rather not repeat and questioning my leadership. The parent, who wrote the letter, held nothing back. Instead of delivering the letter to me, of course, they sent it to my lead pastor. I was mad, I was hurt and since the letter wasn't signed with a name I tried to figure out who could have written such a letter. I will never forget that conversation, I will never forget the letter and I still to this day have no idea who wrote it. So my question is, how do you handle criticism?
If you are in ministry long enough you learn quickly that criticism comes with the territory. As a general rule, most people respond to criticism poorly. I know that my first reaction is to put up my walls and get defensive. I get defensive because I feel they are taking a shot at my character, my identity and my competency. If I am totally transparent with you, I hate criticism, constructive criticism and negative criticism. I don't like knowing Im not good enough or at least feeling like I'm not good enough.
Taking a defensive stance on criticism is the least effective way to approach push back. Below are three ways I am learning (yes, learning cause its still hard sometimes) to deal with criticism.
1. Consider The Source
Who is it that is bringing criticism? The answer to this question dictates how much stock you should place in the push back. There are people who are going to negative about pretty much anything. There are people who will always go to bat for you. When the people that usually go to bat for you are giving you feedback, you should probably listen a little harder. On the flip side, do not give the wrong people more credit than they should have. Ask yourself, "does this person bring a perspective that I should listen to?" The answer to that question will lead you into the next point.
2. Where's The Truth
Once you have determined whether the person giving feedback is a perspective you need to listen to, you need to find the truth in their statement, feedback or criticism. More often than not, they are not 100% correct in what they are saying. What if their feedback is 50% right? Shouldn't that be enough to take note of and acknowledge? Even if its just 10% correct, its worth taking in and acknowledging the truth that is there. When you look for the truth in the feedback/criticism you are approaching it with humility. That posture of humility when receiving feedback/criticism helps you evaluate honestly and allows you the opportunity to grow and not be offended.
3. Humbly Respond
Your response to the person bringing the feedback/criticism will let them know what type of a leader you are. Humble leaders are gracious in their response, quick to acknowledge truth and will own mistakes or short comings to provide a clear road to resolution. Every person deserves a gracious response, no matter the circumstances and no matter how fired up you might be. If you need to wait a day, a week or longer in order to garner a humble response then wait the appropriate amount of time. Your response will leave a lasting impression of you and your organization.
Those are just some things I have learned and still need to be reminded of often. So what about you? How do you handle criticism? Do you have any good tricks you use?