Is it Time to Change Things for the Sake of Your Kids?

This week I read an astonishing article about a prominent businessman, (Mohamed El-Erian, pictured below), who quit his career after his 10 year old daughter gave him a list of 22 milestones that he had missed as a result of his demanding investment career.


As I read the article I was sad to hear that it took a little girl to spell out to her dad just how much he had missed. On the other hand, I was impressed that this man had put his daughter first and made some crucial decisions.

As I read further, I started to compare myself to this man and wonder how my list would line up against his list. While I had not yet missed some of the milestones he had, I started to consider that there are many times when my kids miss me because I am not fully present even when I am at home…

Our kids miss us when we are not fully present at home… 

In a world where we can be connected to technology every minute of the day, it’s easy to interrupt crucial family times, dinners, and milestones. While it’s easy to compare myself to a businessman who has missed so many milestones, it’s important to examine my own habits and hang ups as a parent. I have to admit, switching off when I am home is something I am working on every day.

What needs to change for the sake of your kids? If you are married, what does your spouse need more of from you? How is your career impacting your family? What boundaries need to be created in your home to ensure that your kids get the best of you?

Phil <><

photo credit: World Economic Forum via photopin cc

Perspective Provides Purpose

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

fall pond

Recently I went back to my hometown in the UK to see my mother.

Just over a year ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She has deteriorated quite quickly since. While she still knows who I am, there will come a day when she no longer can grasp simple realities.

As I spent time with her, I cherished simple conversations and made the most of asking questions that her longterm memory still allows her to recall. There were questions I had never thought to ask before, and things I knew I needed to say while we still had precious time together.

Spending time with a parent who is slowly deteriorating certainly has a way to bring things into perspective.

So, here is a question I leave you to consider: 

If you knew your time on earth was limited, what would you do differently? Why not start today? 

Phil <><



photo credit: David Paul Ohmer via photopin cc

The Importance of Saying “No” to ‘Yes People’.

If you are like me, it always feels good to hear affirmation as a leader. If I am honest, there are times when I wish everyone would agree with my vision, philosophies, and my day-to-day decisions. But, sadly, as a leader that is not the real world…

Say no

Every leader should expect push-back, criticism, and opposition at different times. However, over time, there is a concerning tendency to silence those voices and replace them with people who are quick to agree with everything we say or do.

While it makes for an easier life by surrounding ourselves with “yes” people, it actually stunts our personal growth as well as that of our organization. Rather, we should surround ourselves with leaders and thinkers who have permission to think in alternative ways and speak up when plans appear to have flaws.

Surrounding ourselves with leaders and thinkers who can speak their mind is essential because…

We refine our message. A plan might seem crystal clear to you and I, but it might not be the case for our followers. Giving a voice to our team in the early stages of a plan will help us ensure that possible misunderstandings are removed by the time the plan goes live for everyone else.

We avoid pitfalls. It’s impossible to think through every pitfall in a plan. Recently, as I was creating a training event for our volunteers, I sat down with my team to look at how the event would go. It was only in those early discussions that we saw one major pitfall together. I would never have seen it by myself!

We lead stronger. There are times when we will receive feedback and opinions that is potentially painful and hurtful. While there will be certain people who complain and moan constantly, it’s essential to realize that certain feedback in areas of our own deficiency is needed to grow and change.

When we give permission to a trusted few to speak truth into our lives, it is then we can see areas of our leadership that needs repair and improvement.

We attract (and keep) leaders. Who wants to be a part of team that is dictated by one strong voice that is unwilling to hear from anyone else? Other leaders want to be heard and be part of the creation of something that will make a lasting impact. When we give them a voice and value their thoughts and ideas, it gives them greater ownership and purpose. When potential leaders are looking to join our organization, they must sense that collaboration and dialogue are part of the DNA. They need to know they will be given a voice and given the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions without being shot down.

What kind of people do you surround yourself with? How can thinkers and leaders help you refine your message and create a better plan? How can a culture of transparency in your organization help you grow as a leader even when it’s painful? Who are the people in your life who need a greater voice?

Phil <><

photo credit: EltonHarding via photopin cc

Simplify Your Communication to Volunteers and Help Them Succeed!

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
— General Colin Powell

Mixed Messages Volunteers

As a pastor to families, I directly and indirectly oversee staff and volunteers in our children’s and student ministries. With busy volunteers, and with so many competing messages in their world, it can be a challenge to communicate the details, programs, and vision for our ministry. Volunteers will soon tune out my communication if I don’t simplify what they receive from me.

1. Cast Vision: Everything we write or say to volunteers is a opportunity to cast vision. Whether it is at the beginning of your weekly email, or sharing a story at the beginning of a volunteer meeting; the vision of your organization needs to placed in front of your volunteers on a regular basis.

A well placed (short) story that captures and communicates the vision is one of the best ways to help a volunteer team focus (and refocus) on what matters most.

When vision leaks, good volunteers will determine in their mind what the vision is… 

With so many church backgrounds and varied personalities, even our best volunteers can stray off course. Being slightly off course at the beginning of a ‘journey’ will mean you are way off course by the end of it. It’s essential therefore, that we constantly chart the course in our emails, stories, and meetings.

2. Clarity: In a busy world that is crammed full of competing messages, we should not expect that our volunteers are going to ‘get’ our message quickly. If there is something we want our volunteers to know or do, it is essential that we give them clarity in our communication.

Being clear will require us to craft statements and sayings that will stick over time.

3. Concise: Clarity comes when we narrow our focus down to the absolute essentials that volunteers need to hear again and again. In a frantic week full of competing messages, it is imperative that communication with volunteers is concise and to the point. We are helping our volunteers make our ministry a priority when we make it easy for them digest our communication. Who wants to read a novel in their email inbox?

But, are we ‘dumbing down’ the role of a volunteer by simplifying our communication? In my experience, it is better to simplify and to build from there, as opposed to overloading our volunteers with multiple and complicated messages that they will never remember or act on.

How are you consistently communicating by casting a clear and concise vision and instructions to a busy volunteer team? What tools and methods do you use for communication? What statements have you crafted that have become part of the DNA in your organization?

Phil <><

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

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