Month: October 2012

A powerful, yet simple way to help end bullying

Everyone should care about the bullying epidemic that’s spreading across our country. 

And…Yes, I really do believe it’s an epidemic.

That’s my opinion, but if the older generations of leaders and parents don’t pay more attention to what’s happening with this younger generation, our future years will not be bright. In our homes, our churches, our schools and our communities.

Bullying is an epidemic and it’s spreading at alarming rates. Yes, it’s always been around. Yes, it will always be around in some form. But, the way kids bully each other today is so much darker and much more intense than past generations. Again, that’s my opinion, but something has to be done!

A powerful, yet simple way to help overcome bullying

Would you consider supporting Live Now Leadership as we tackle the epidemic of bullying?

It’s a powerful, yet simple way to help overcome bullying. We exist to partner with schools to educate and motivate students and parents to overcome bullying to treating each other with unprecedented amounts of kindness and respect.

Your prayer. Your support. Your word of mouth. Your marketing. Your financial gifts. These are  all powerful ways to help us overcome bullying.

Three Ways to Help

1. Attend our ‘Celebrate and Support’ Night. It’s November 12th at 7pm in Mt Pleasant, MI. There will be coffee and dessert, stories of how we’re tackling the bullying epidemic and I will share an encouraging talk with our attendees. The details are here.

2. Buy a ticket even if you can’t attend. By buying a ticket, you will be making a great donation to Live Now. Because of 4 amazing couples who are sponsoring the event, all proceeds from our ticket sales go to help and support Live Now. Even if you can’t attend, you can help. The details are here.

3. Bring a friend, teacher or school administrator.  This is a great opportunity to buy a ticket for someone who you think needs to hear the message and vision of Live Now. Bring a neighbor, a friend or a teacher of school administrator. The details are here.

Again, I would be honored if you would consider helping Live Now.

If you have any questions or would like to know some of the other ways we’re looking for help, please email me (jason@livenowleadership.com)

I now know why

*Warning: This is a pretty transparent and raw post. It’s been brewing in my mind and heart for months and I’ve been hesitant to post it. 

It’s happened twice and I now know why.

Don’t get me wrong, it hurt. It left me baffled and scratching my head, but I now know why.

I wanted it so bad…each time and I now know why.

I Now Know Why. 

Here’s what I wanted. On two occasions, after I left each of my previous church positions, a job description was changed and altered and it was the role that I had craved. After I left my position in Chicago, the position of Associate Director appeared and after I left my last church leadership position they hired an Executive Director.

To be completely honest, I craved both positions. Why? Because I’m a leader! I think I was already doing parts of those positions, but I didn’t have the title. And, I know full well, that leadership is not about titles! But, I really aspired to have those roles at my last two churches. 

Regardless, I missed those opportunities. I do believe I would have done incredibly well in those positions.  My work ethic, experience and support from the staff I lead were indicators, as well as my previous performance evaluations that I would have done great. Now, I will always have a giant learning curve and I would have had much to learn, but I would have loved the chance.

It wasn’t God’s plan. I now know why. 

I know that what I’m doing with my life right now, is what God has called me to do.

That’s why.

I believe that with everything that I am. I have been given a vision and a dream from God and He’s released me to pursue this calling.

It’s the calling to Speak, to Teach, to Encourage, to Motivate, to Write, to Bring Joy and to Help others. 

I was 13 when I stood in front of my church for the first time and gave a talk. I loved it. I was nervous as all get out, but it was an amazing experience. During high school, I loved any opportunities I got to stand up in front of my school or class and give a speech.

I was 19 and a church hired me as their youth pastor and week after week, I had the privilege to stand in front of the students and teach, I loved it.

I was 21 the first time a camp asked me to come to their camp and speak, I loved it. I’ve been doing it every since.

I’ve known for 25 years that God has called me to use my gift of speaking to encourage people. 

But, for the last 18 years I’ve used that gift partially working and serving the local church. I’ve had the honor of working for churches of all shapes, sizes and philosophies. It’s actually been quite a ride.

To work at an extremely traditional church and then a large presbyterian church and then a contemporary church and then a church plant and then a mega church and then the mother of all mega churches and then another presbyterian church. What a ride!

I loved it because I believe in the local church and I believe what Bill Hybel’s has said a million times…“The local church is the hope of the world”. 

I believe in the church so much that I almost planted a church this summer. I was close. The area that I live in, I believe, is in desperate need of a modern, forward moving and thinking church. And, I was praying and asking God if I was the man to help start this church.

And, these last six months, I’ve had a few really amazing opportunities come my way to step into the exact positions I have craved in the past as a church leader. There was an opportunity to plant a church, to be an executive pastor, to be a senior pastor, to be a student ministry pastor and to work along side of a church leader that is in my top 5 of men that I admire!

I prayed and I Sought God on these opportunities.

The answer came back.

It was no.

I now know why I didn’t get to wear the hat of Associate Director or Executive Director . It wasn’t God’s plan and it didn’t align with the calling He’s laid on my heart.

This calling hasn’t been an easy. It’s actually been a rough road. But, I do have a GREAT peace in my heart that I’m doing what God has called me to do and things are really starting to come together. These past 6 months have been the most I’ve ever worked in my life. It’s stretched me more than anything I’ve ever been through.

God is providing and He’s opening doors for me to speak and teach more and more. In schools, in colleges, in churches, at camps, at retreats, at trainings, at workshops and seminars.

I am honored and humbled to have been a part of all those great churches and I believe that I’m called to help the local church this season of my life. To come alongside it’s leaders, its volunteers and to stand in front of as many students and adults that I can and teach God’s word.

I now know why.

 

 

I found healing…

This fall I started listening to Perry Noble’s  sermons almost everyday.

I also read his book, Unleash.

Both are absolutely INCREDIBLE!

Let me back up. I’ve followed Perry Noble and his church, NewSpring Church for a long time. I have friends who have been and who are staff members there and from an organizational and leadership standpoint, I’ve had great respect for Perry and the Church. But, to be completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Perry’s preaching. Purely my own opinion. Just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I heard Perry at a conference and was totally and absolutely drawn to his heart.

This past year I started listening to his sermons and his leadership podcast and then this fall I started listening to a sermon a day some weeks and they  have brought me a lot of healing. 2012 has been an extremely tough year with lot’s of emotional up and downs, and Perry’s sermons have been incredible for my heart.

I’ve been crazing messages that were real, transparent, passionate and challenging and I found what I needed!

What I love most about Perry is his ability to just be real. He’s not afraid to let you in and I love, LOVE, that he’s so transparent about his weaknesses and struggles and he’s so quick to point everything to Jesus. His preaching is so refreshing.

I would encourage you to give it a listen if you’ve been looking for teaching that is genuine, raw, real and refreshing.

 

 

An incredible gift

This past weekend I received something that I’ll cherish for a long time. 

It came in the form of a facebook message.

It came at just the right time.

It came when I needed it most.

It came from someone I admire and respect.

It came quietly and without fanfare.

It was simple, yet profound.

I received a thank you. 

It was awesome. I opened up facebook and saw I had a message waiting for me, I clicked it and it was a thank you. It was actually a thank you for the thank you cards that I have sent their family.

This family is one that I admire greatly. They have two incredible teenage boys who are amazing and their entire family helped us move this summer in an amazing way. And, they’ve let me borrow their vehicles for speaking trips and for helping my parents move. They are ‘over and above’ givers. They don’t just say yes, you can borrow that, they think of creative ways to help you.

So, I wanted to say thank you. 

I am in a season of making extreme asks. Its been very hard to do. It’s in my nature to not ask for help and it’s been so hard. But, after reading Acts 2 about a thousand times, I’ve come to realize that asking for your community for help is ok.

I can only imagine what could be accomplished for the kingdom if people opened up their hearts and opened their lives to each ot

her. If they looked at all they’ve blessed with and said, here, you take this and you this. It would be amazing.

I have a GIANT dream that I believe passionately is from God and I can’t do it alone. I’m not trying to build a business that provides widgets, I’m trying to motivate students and adults that there’s a better way to live.

It’s kingdom work. It’s heart surgery of the most important kind.

All that to say, I send a lot of thank you’s. It’s all I have. I can’t send financial gifts, I can’t send gifts, but I can send the gift of words.

So, it was incredible to receive the gift back.

 

Hanging with Bobby

A few years ago I started taking each of my kids with me on speaking trips. The deal was, when they turned 8, they could come on a trip with Dad.

It’s been incredible!

Best weekends ever.

The nice part is, my kids have been coming with me as a family on speaking trips their whole lives. So, they know the drill. They know when it’s our time and when dad’s talking and hanging out. It’s great.

It started with Bekah and then Bob and I took Zach on his first trip back in August. This weekend, it’s Bob and I. Out of my 4 kids, Bob and I are least alike. Bekah, Zach and I are very alike. Even Madie to some extent. We’re all very outgoing, comfortable in new situations, excited about change, positive, easy to make new friends and pretty darn upbeat. Bob’s a lot like his mom. Quiet, shy and not the one you would see on stage. 

Bob, not so much. At home, Bob is himself. So stinking funny, so animated, a dancer and so much fun. At church, school or new situations, Bob is very quiet. Bob loves video games. Bob loves to be lazy. Bob is also incredibly smart and asks some amazingly deep questions. Head scratchers for sure!

So, this weekend is great because it’s just Bob and I.

Questions & Conversations 

1. Questions. My goal for the weekend was to ask as many questions as I possibly could. As a dad, I want to be the expert about my kids, so I want to know everything I can about them. That starts with Questions.

2. Listen. I wanted to listen and remember. If I’m going to be the expert, I have to drop everything else I’m doing and thinking about and listen to what Bob is saying and what he’s really saying.

3. Challenge. I need to keep challenging my kids and there are a few areas that I pushed Bob this weekend. We learned a bible verse together and we spent a lot of time talking about that verse.

4. Fun. We went exploring. Went on a run together. Played catch in the gym. Shot some hoops. Watched some netflix and hung out.

Great weekend! Not only is God moving and using me as a speaker. He has blessed Bob and I with a weekend that I know we will always remember!

I love hanging with my Bobby!

Can our student leaders pray for you?

Last night Bobby and I were sitting before the first session is about to begin and I’m asked…

Can our student leaders pray for you before you teach?

What?!? Are you serious? How incredible awesome is that?!?

I’ve been speaking at camps, retreats and conferences for 15 years. I have been prayed over many times by adults, but I’ve never been asked if the student leaders could pray for me.

I am still blown away. I loved it and I was so impressed to step outside with about a half dozen seniors (both guys ands gals) as they prayed for me before I spoke!

That’s empowerment! I love student lead ministry and that’s it.

Let me back up…

This weekend I’m speaking on a retreat at Bair Lake Bible Camp.  I haven’t been to this camp in YEARS! I spoke at a few retreats here many years ago and it’s nice being back. They’ve added an incredible gym! Wow, it’s great!

I was asked by Brian Henry, the youth pastor at The Rock to be the speaker for the weekend. I met Brian a few years back at an event and it’s been great connecting with him over the phone as the retreat has gotten closer.

5 incredible Churches from Indiana come together in the fall and do a combined retreat for their jr and sr high students and I have the honor and privilege of being their speaker for the weekend. The really cool part is, I met a bunch of the seniors here when they were in jr high way back when I was the speaker at  CDYC a few years back.

So humbling that they remembered me!

It was that same group of seniors who prayed for me. I’ve been in, around, a part of, and in love with student ministry my entire adult life. I love, LOVE, that a group of students (The Seniors!) took time to pray for the speaker, the students and the weekend.

I loved hearing them pray over the retreat and pour their hearts out to God.

Mom and Dad’s…ARE…the key to ending bullying

Mom and Dad’s are the key to ending bullying.

Let me back up.

I’ve talked to thousands of students and parents, both one on one and in groups.

I’ve been working with students and families in a variety of contexts for 18 years.

I’ve been a youth director, camp counselor, teaching pastor, speaker, event planner, and seminar speaker.

I’ve studied adolescent development and emotional intelligence for 18 years.

I’m a dad of 4 kids.

I have great parents.

I surrond myself with friends who believe they need to be intentional in their parenting and it’s the most important duty in their life.

Through all of that, I have come to the conclusion that Mom and Dads are the absolute key to ending bullying.

Schools are a part of the equation. Organizations like Live Now are a part of the equation. Churches are a part of the equation. Even celebrities and the influence of media is a part of the equation. Grandparents and family members are a part of the equation.

But nothing has more power to end Bullying than Mom and Dad’s. NOTHING!

It’s their responsibility, their sacred duty to teach their kids how to treat others with kindness and respect. Too often, I speak with parents who think it’s the responsibility of the people I just listed out. That’s wrong. 

Mom and Dad’s…step up to the plate. Teach your sons, your daughters how to accept people that are different than them. Teach them to treat others with unprecedented amounts of kindness and respect.

What do you think? Do you think Mom and Dads are the key to ending bullying?