One of the greatest scenes in any movie, ever, is where Rudy is carried off the field by his teammates. Arms raised high, crowd going wild, a young man’s wildest dream being lived out. He didn’t make the game-winning play, he didn’t break any records. In fact, it was the first game he had ever even played in. Yet, those two hands, thrusted towards the heavens, sums up what I think lives in all of us. We’ll come back to Rudy in a minute. 

     My whole life, possibly to a fault, I’ve been a dreamer. I think it’s where my oldest daughter gets it from. Let me share some of my never-spoken-out loud “Fantasy Land” moments. I’ve dreamed of seeing my artwork in a museum, selling for ridiculous amounts of money to people with bad taste. I’ve dreamed of getting contacted because someone wants to feature my blogs or videos globally. I’ve dreamed of filling a youth room with 400 students every week, hearing life-changing sermons. I’ve dreamed of being asked to speak at high-level conferences around the U.S. 

    Probably the biggest dream was music. Even at 6 years old, I saw myself playing on stages reminiscent of a Foo-Fighters concert. Big lights, roadies, songs on the radio that everyone knew. This one is actually a little embarrassing, but ironically not many people will read this, so no biggie. I used to imagine getting a song I wrote for my nephew picked up and recorded by some big time artist. It would go number one, I would be nominated for “song of the year” and would win. I even went as far as to picture the red dress my wife would wear as we both sobbed at the amazement of winning. The speech, the tears, the award held high as I gave God the glory. Yep… It’s true. I would play that scene over and over in my head, for years. 

For some reason, I truly believed it could all happen. But so far, no emails, phone calls, letters in the mail or invitations. 

    PLEASE, don’t misunderstand my heart here. Yes, I have many things to cheer about. Unbelievably amazing children who love the Lord and live with integrity and strength. A marriage that fights through trials and tribulations to someone WAY out of my league. The list goes on and on and I treasure those. But I’m talking about those ridiculous, seemingly unattainable dreams that you would almost be embarrassed to tell people about (like I just did for some reason). 

    Now back to Rudy. Rudy was the most unlikely person to play football on the Notre Dame field. He was undersized, underrated and underappreciated even after years of being on the practice team. He stuck in there, always believing it could somehow happen, even if unlikely. And somehow, he saw his lifelong dream come to life in front of thousands of fans; most who never knew he existed. 

    Rudy was the only player in Notre Dame history to ever be carried off the field by his team. The crowd cheered his name, the stadium was electric… all for him. But, and here’s the heart of this whole blog, that’s not why Rudy has his hands in the air. It wasn’t about everyone noticing or recognizing him. It wasn’t about having his name fill the air or being the superstar of the day. It was simply a declaration of one personal message,

“I did it!”

    That scene is the backdrop to my own dreams. For me, it’s not about the fame, the prestige or the superstar moments. Those things are shallow and fleeting. It’s simply, despite seemingly unattainable moments and “Fantasy Land” dreams, being able to raise my hands up and say, “I did it”! It’s really just for myself. The personal victory. 

    I bet you have those dreams too. Maybe you’d never say them out loud or post them in a blog, but you have em’. Dare to dream! It’s what keeps us alive inside! It’s what keeps me thinking today may be the day I get the call or email. Dream big, dream often and maybe one day you’ll be carried off the proverbial field, hands held high saying,

“I did it”! 

PS, if you have not seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor and change that!

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”  –  Walt Disney

Ephesians 3:20 “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.”

I hate to sound like a whiner, but if you read my last couple of blogs, you would think differently. 2015 has been, well, unusual. I’m not sure the reason, but God has really been putting me through the ringer. The first month and a half of this year has been filled with blow after blow. Expensive car repairs, financial setbacks, emergency surgery, losing 15 lbs in ten days due to that surgery (as a bodybuilder, that’s horrific). I’ve had kids that I care about and mentored for years leave my youth ministry, people take shots at me, my family has been picked at and I’ve been cranky and argumentative with them because of it all. And then there was the “straw”. You know, the one that broke the camel’s back?

That thing that takes you to the edge of your sanity?

That “straw” came in the form of what seemed to be termites on the floor of my 4 year-old home. Keep in mind, this is all in 6 weeks. (and I’ve left out some personal stuff!)

I stared at the floor and just thought, “Really, God? Termites? You’re gonna hit me with termites right now?”

I laid in bed for a couple nights in a row and thought about my options. By that I mean my emotional options, how I want to respond to the 6-week war I’ve been in. I could get angry. We all know that if you get angry enough, termites run away and gallbladders come back. I could be depressed, which we know keeps cars from breaking down. A good pity-party would surely bring kids back to our ministry and make people like me again, right? I could just “give up” as people say, but what’s that supposed to mean anyway?

I could do all of those things or I could choose to grow. I could open my ears and in the fashion of Job (he’s that Bible guy who has all of the bad stuff happen), I could let God work. I could let Him teach me and strengthen me when I feel at my weakest.

I heard a quote many years ago that said, ” A soldier’s strength is never known at times of peace.” Well, if that’s true, we’re about to see what past bootcamps have taught me. It’s time to strap up, forge ahead and fight. That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned. It doesn’t mean I’m not challenged or even frustrated. It doesn’t mean I become Super-Christian and pretend nothing is happening because “I walk by faith and not by sight”. It simply means it’s war time.

As I said to someone the other night, life has seasons. Some seasons are better than others. Some northern winters will go down in history as crippling, yet spring always comes. Seasons. It’s a natural part of how the world works. Right now I feel like I’m waist deep in snow, trying to shovel my way to the driveway with a bad back. Even if I make it to the car, I can’t drive it due to the conditions of my path. But, I keep in mind…

spring is coming! So is yours. Keep shovelling!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ” There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


It was an average, casual Monday. Staff meeting in the morning, drove my daughter to the airport to fly back to college, came home and did some youth ministry work. Cooked some glorious steaks on my brand new grill, watched some TV, brushed my teeth and headed to bed. And then it happened. For the third time in five days, an excruciating pain in my abdomen. A pain that previously lasted about two hours, went away and I would go back to sleep. But this was different. The pain didn’t let up and I found myself laying on the living room floor, texting my wife upstairs that it was time to head to the ER.

“Mr. Henning, your gallbladder has to come out.” Excuse me, “come out”? I had never had a surgery in my life! My nurse-wife and everyone else informed me it’s a common procedure. Yank it out, home usually the next day with some additional time of rest. Right. Not exactly how it went for me.

A long list of complications landed me 5 days in the hospital.

When home, I was talking to a close friend of mine about all of it and how strange it was to be totally out of control of everything. He asked, “And what did you learn from that?”

I knew he was prodding for some deep spiritual response, maybe some kind of epiphany I had in my downtime. My answer… “Nothing”. At that moment I was aggravated, annoyed and inconvenienced by this needless speed bump in my life. By doctor’s orders, I couldn’t go to the gym for 5 weeks. 5 WEEKS!!!!! No driving, no picking stuff up, no nothing! Not to mention, worst of all, I had a youth retreat I was leading, happening in one week! I do not have time for this!

But after the dust settled, I DID learn something. Something kind of cool.

While in the hospital, I prayed, but I never had a “Dear Jesus, please protect me, please watch me, please give the doctors wisdom, please… “, (anything else scared people about to have surgery pray for) moment. Might be unusual behaviour from a Pastor, but here’s my “epiphany” on it all. Mike, listen up, here it is.

I realized, with some excitement, the state of my faith, the level of our relationship, God and I. You see, through the whole process, my wife was by my side. I never had to beg her to stay with me, to help me, to look out for my best interest. Because of her love for me and her history of never leaving my side, I just… knew. I could be assured of her presence even if I didn’t request it.

It was the same for me and the Lord. I guess I didn’t feel the need to go into panic-prayer mode because I just knew. I knew He was just as present at the hospital as He is when I’m at home writing sermons. He was just as present when my organs were being ripped out as He is when I’m cleaning the garage. Whether I begged Him or not, because I was His child, He never turned his head from the situation at hand.

That’s a pretty good feeling. I think too many people, even heartfelt Christians, trade the truth of an omni-present God for an “emergency present” God. One who seems to respond more to hospital prayers than everyday cares.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not insinuating that those moments of panic-prayer aren’t normal or even necessary. Even the greatest heroes of Scripture rang God’s doorbell in their darkest and most frightening moments. Chances are I’ll have a few more of those in the future myself.

What I’m trying to say is it’s important to remember the depth of truth in Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” As crucial as prayer is in the life of a believer, We don’t always have to push the call button to be tended to. He’s already there.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Wow, it’s been almost a year since my last blog! Talk about getting lazy.

Regardless, here I am, sitting in a secluded cabin in the woods of Tennessee. When I say secluded, I mean I feared slightly for my life as we drove up the side of a mountain to find the place. But we’re here and vacation has begun. I came up here  with only a few expectations:
1. Experience a real vacation outside of Florida. Disney’s great, but I need more.
2. Relax.
3. Hear God, clearly and intensely.

Can I be a bit transparent and honest with you guys? Can I drop the “Painless Pastor” stuff for a few and spill my guts? Ya see, before we left, I was feeling a bit “sluggish”. I could feel myself slowing down. My drive for ministry was “sluggish”, my motivation to plan was “sluggish”, my creativity was sluggish. The scariest thing is that my passion to move forward was “sluggish”. The last quarter of the ministry year was wearing on me but not because things were “bad”. It was just… heavy. Planning for a new youth building, planning for 2015, attendance goals for the year that seem we won’t reach, watching people’s lives disintegrate despite advice I’ve poured out, etc, etc. If you’re a Pastor (or in ministry at all), you know the deal. I’m not saying anything you don’t get and I’m not saying my struggle is something unique. I just think that after 14 years of very minimal soul maintenance, it’s caught up.

Many years ago, my wife and I bought a super kick-butt Ford Thunderbird. This thing was awesome. Quick, sleek, comfortable seats and even a cool keypad on the door that you type a code in to lock and unlock it. For us, that was high-class. But, I put over 70,000 miles on it and never changed the oil. I was immature when it came to maintenance. I just never thought about it. Until that day… that day the oil light came on. In typical circumstances, that’s a warning light, but for us, that was a signal of the end. The mechanic informed us that the oil had become so sludged up that it destroyed the oil pump. The filter could no longer “filter”, the pump could no longer “pump” and the engine pretty much just dried up and the heat and friction became too much. It was over.

All I had to do was a little bit of maintenance every 3000 miles and this meltdown could’ve been avoided.

So here I sit, in a cabin, “sluggish”, full of sludge, slowing down, all because of my inability to do maintenance. Don’t get me wrong, I read books, I take time to pray, time to study, even get away a little here and there. But I very rarely take time to do a full oil change. What I’ve done is the equivalent of a full detail job but neglecting the heart, the engine that keeps it running. I’ve neglected to notice the oil light of my own soul come on. I believed I could just keep on driving mile after mile and expect to run in high performance.

While here, I planned to sit and read a book and hear God scream something profound into my heart. Instead, he gave me this simple illustration of the oil change. So I prayed. I asked God to flush out my heart.

I prayed for a new “filter” for things to run through. The filter of seeing with His eyes, the filter of hearing with His ears. I want everything in life to run through HIS filter.

I prayed for a new “pump”. I want His heart to be MY heart, His passion to be MY passion, His motivation to be MY motivation.

I prayed for fresh “oil”. I want to have that same fresh anointing I had when I first began. I want His vision to flow through my veins and reduce the friction and heat that ministry can generate.

I prayed God would forgive me for my poor maintenance and teach me to see the warning lights before the meltdown.

I’d love to wrap this up with a story of how I’ve been changed in the first couple days and how I feel like a new man, ready to conquer the world with a fresh wind. Not yet. But I can already sense my motor running better. Here’s to maintenance!

Matthew 28-30 (The Message) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I wasn’t planning on blogging until tomorrow, but when I read this passage just now, it weighed so heavily on me that I had to sit and get this out of me immediately. I realize this may rub you the wrong way and you may disagree, but give it a shot.

Let’s read it first, then I’ll comment.

Luke 9
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

Wow. Maybe you’ve already been all over this, but I’ve never noticed it before. Or at least the Spirit hasn’t revealed it to me in this way until now.

If you know the background, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. Gas and fire, oil and water, corn mixed in with mashed potatoes… it doesn’t work.

The Samaritans completely reject The Lord as He draws near, which was expected. His croonies are ready to blow the place up in a display of power and retaliation. How dare those Samaritans! If they weren’t for joining the Jesus parade, they didn’t deserve to live.

But, their “manner of spirit” as Jesus points out, is all backwards. Then, in typical Jesus fashion, He flips the situation upside down. Instead of anger, instead of fire and brimstone, instead of picketing, yelling and spewing hate… He recommends grace.

Lemme just get right to what hit me this morning. How do we, as Christians, treat those who don’t think how we do? How do we react to those who push back against OUR lifestyle?

How do we react to the Muslim family in the airport? The homosexual couple in the store? The guy driving the car with the Darwin fish eating the Jesus fish? How do we react to the girl who just had an abortion or the ones who call us “weak” because “we need religion as a crutch”?

I’m not telling you to agree and accept everything as good and okay, but have you ever thought that maybe instead of “commanding fire to come down from heaven and consume them”, that Jesus prefers a different approach? An approach that can mix differences and grace together in only a way Jesus could do?

The next time you are about to react to some opposition to what we believe, please, put yourself in the above scenario. Imagine Jesus is walking in front of YOU and YOU are the one asking if you should call down a consuming fire.

You may be surprised when Jesus asks you to put down the verbal matches and extinguish our own thoughts.


My wife called me on her way to work to inform me that a truck in front of her kicked up a rock and WHAMMO, you guessed it, cracked windshield. Not off to the side, not up high… dead center. No matter where you look, it’s in your sight and you can’t miss it.

It wasn’t very impressive, maybe the size of a dime, but there’s an important thing to understand about these guys. If you don’t tend to it, you’re looking at a potentially larger problem down the road… get it “down the road”? See what I did there?

If it’s not repaired, one jolt, one bump, one pothole can be enough to cause it to begin spreading. What was once the size of a dime can suddenly take over an entire area. You can ignore it if you want, but it’s not gonna go away and it’s only gonna get worse.

The Scriptures talk about sin in the same way.

Jesus said in Luke 12:1 ” … Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Huh? What’s that have to with sin? Let me explain. “Yeast” or “Leaven” in the Bible almost always represents sin. That makes what Paul says in Galatians REALLY important to understand.

Galatians 5:9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

If we’re not careful, those little, everyday, “everybody-does-em” sins begin to spread. That harmless flirting expands into an affair. That little white lie spreads into a web of deceit you can’t get yourself out of. A small “shortcut” or cheat turns into an audit, a little compromise here and there all of a sudden shifts your life forever.

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

Don’t underestimate the power of this.

I didn’t underestimate the potential of the small crack in my window, so I called a professional. They came in, analyzed the damage and went to work. They cleaned the glass, prepped the surface and filled it with some type of magical liquid resin that would strengthen the spot and keep it from spreading.

Question. Has Satan kicked up a sin-rock that’s compromised the integrity of your heart? What small sin have you been ignoring? Are you risking a complete take-over down the road by pretending it’s not there?

My recommendation… call in the Professional. Allow Jesus to restore and repair you, immediately. Don’t wait, don’t put it off and don’t be naive enough to think you can truck on down the road with no danger involved.

The next bump could be enough to shatter your whole life.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.


So… not my most popular sermon, but here’s a blog version of last Sunday’s message. I mentioned it was probably easier to preach it than to hear it, so let’s see how READING it pans out for ya. It’s long I know, but bear with me. It’s worth the read.

Anyone who owns a Twitter account has either done it, or had it done to them (at least you THINK it was done to you). Talkin’ bout the good ole’ “subtweet”!

If you’re not sure what that is, Urban Dictionary defines it as this; “A tweet that mentions a Twitter member without using their actual username. Usually employed for negative or insulting tweets.”

Basically, it’s a way to write something bad about someone without them knowing it’s directed towards them. Or as I define it (in a not-so-classy way); “A cowardly way to talk crap about someone because you’re actually a little afraid of them.”

It’s easy to hide behind 140 characters instead of dealing with confrontation head-on. I compare it to playing paintball with our youth ministry in the past. The referee yells “Go” and some would never move one inch. They would hide behind the bunker, scared to death, hold their gun up and do what’s called “blind shots”. That’s just sticking the gun over the bunker and pulling the trigger like a madman, hoping you hit someone. Subtweets are the same, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Jesus always handled conflict head-on. He didn’t “blind shot” anyone and He surely didn’t run and hide. As Christians, shouldn’t we be the same? Sure, but instead, when we encounter conflict or get angry, we log in, take aim and fire away. I’d like to show you 4 quick truths about “subtweeting” you may not realize.

1. It shows your immaturity.
Like a 6 year-old who just got their ball taken on the playground, we run off and talk about what a doodie-head someone is. The Apostle Paul had to address the Corinthian church about their same immaturity towards each other.
1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
Time to grow up my friends.”

2. It shows you can’t be trusted.
It’s heartbreaking to find out someone in your crowd of pals turns out to be a backstabber and liar. Their nice to your face, but seem to always find that opportunity to let you have it. Jesus understood this all too well as Judas does in Matthew 26:14-16 and don’t forget the other guys, especially Peter in Matthew 26:31-35.

3. It shows you can’t handle conflict.
Just like my kids in paintball battle, instead of facing opposition, we hide behind our Twitter Bunker and hope our blind shots hit the target and inflict a little pain. I personally believe the only reason we do this is because we’re actually a little afraid of them. What if we were brave enough to do what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15,16?
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.”

4. It’s Bullying.
Label it what you want, say you’re “just getting things off your chest”, however you wanna wrap it up, it’s bullying. But let’s remember that people, young people, have taken their own lives over crap like this. You don’t want that kind of responsibility haunting you.

Ephesians 4 tells us “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them… Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

If you’ve made it this far in the blog and actually may care a little about what I’m saying, I wanna leave you with 3 things to think about before you shoot your next subtweet from behind your Twitter wall.

1. Would I say this to their face? If so, why haven’t I?

2. What does this really say about my character?

3. Am I acting in a way that truly honors the “Jesus” I say I follow?

BTW, this blog was written specifically for you. Yeah, you know who you are.



Yesterday morning I did what could’ve been one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do. My nephew plays on a special needs baseball team each Saturday morning, along with some amazing athletes. During the season, my family and I do our best to catch as many of their games as we can. Nothing beats watching them cheer each other on and pour their hearts into every play. That’s another tear-jerker blog for another day.

Last season, I joked about bringing up my sound system and playing “big league” with them. Maybe I’d announce their names, play some music, call the play-by-play action and let them feel like their heroes on TV. Well, I got that chance. Completely unknown to them, the coaches lined them up on the field as we blared the National Anthem. And as if it were rehearsed, they all yelled “Play ball!” in unison and cheered all the way to the dugouts. Perfect start!

I didn’t anticipate what God was about to show me though as each batter stepped to the plate. Every time I announced their name, they responded with unimaginable pride like I’ve never seen. Some threw their hands in the air, some bowed, some couldn’t stop smiling as their families cheered. In fact, by the second inning, some wouldn’t even step up until they heard the booming sound of their name in the air. One young man even pointed to me as to say “You know what to do. Hit it!”.

Then it dawned on me… the sound of your name. The glorious sound of your own name and being known and recognized!

Not many things are better than hearing someone calling your name to cheer you on and let you know they love you. Just like Norm from Cheers, for a moment, you step into the spotlight feeling as if you’re unstoppable and even, just maybe… unforgettable.

The Spirit spoke to me that morning, not necessarily in words I could hear, but in words that spoke to me just as loud. Here it is.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.

“I have called you by name”! Can we think about this for a second? God Almighty calls YOUR name. The Creator of the Heavens and Earth calls YOUR name. The same God who put on human flesh and took the guilty verdict for you shouts out YOUR name! If you don’t get the weight of this, read that verse over and over until you do!

God tells us, “I’m throwing the greatest head to head game in history and I want you on my team.” He has a position for you to play and a jersey for you to wear. The field is ready and Hebrews 12:1 tells us “we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses” ready to cheer you on.

When times get tough, it’s easy to feel like we’re just benchwarmers, the backups to those MVPs who seem to play with great success. It’s easy to feel like the ones in the dugout who are kind of forgotten as the game goes on. But it’s important for us to remember that in the midst of our struggles, God knows your name. When it seems like no one else cares, God knows your name. In the 9th inning, when it all seems hopeless, He knows your name.

Sometimes the game feels long, especially when we seem to be losing. But keep your ears open and be ready to step up to bat. You play for the greatest coach ever and you are an MVP in His eyes.

John 10:3 “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”


Early in my youth ministry career, I learned something kind of bizarre. I tried to connect with respected youth leaders in my area in hopes of gaining a little help from their years of wisdom. I had hoped they might take this new guy under their wing to help expand some influence in our large community of lost teens.

Instead, what I learned was that they were similar to football coaches. They had their successful ministry playbook and did their best to keep it private. No follow up emails or phone calls, no follow throughs on their “Yeah man, let’s get together” after an unexpected bumping in to. It seemed that this was their home field and they weren’t about to let some small-time coach come in and make their fans switch jerseys.

Maybe this isn’t true in your arena or even how YOU think, but I can bet someone reading this is saying, “Yep, I get it.”. You’re looked at as “competition”, the other team, the rival church down the street, even if you’re a small one. I understand how we could all think that way sometimes, but if we’re honest. it’s just… stupid.

As our ministry and my experience has grown, I try my best to not fall into the coaching playbook trap and make it a point to connect with others as best as possible. Last week I invited a youth pastor to breakfast who was new to our area, freshly married and new to full-time ministry. We talked about our “home field”, I shared some things I’ve experienced and invited him to join the one other leader willing to hang out with me.

I love this because if we do it, we all win. We can all benefit. Here’s a few reasons why.

1. Venting!
Consider it counseling without having to lay on a couch. And honestly, who can understand you better than someone who is fighting the same battle? You’ll be shocked at how much turmoil your “rival team” has in common with you and how much better you’ll feel when you leave. You might even feel better just hearing how messed up THEY are! (kidding… maybe) It’s great to have someone to vent to, plus it’s free, unless you pick up the check.

2. A community playbook
It took me a while to get used to this, but when my local youth pal and I started to share playbooks it was amazing. We’ve shared message ideas, stage design ideas, volunteer training ideas. We’ve partnered up in speaking at local public school Christian clubs. I even called on him to help me plan our first winter retreat since he had lots of experience and is a lot smarter than I am. In fact, we are even working on an idea to join our ministry teams to host a local youth conference. Imagine what an impact could be made if we were willing to make our successful plays public.

3. Power in numbers
My buddy and I have kids who go to the same schools and live in the same neighborhoods. Honestly, why shouldn’t we work together to build a mega-team of soul-winners? I mean, we both have the same Kingdom-minded goal which is to mobilize our kids to make Jesus-powered change in their community.

I always think of the scene in “A Bugs Life” where the ants realize how powerful they can be if they join forces against the enemy Hopper. That scene of them lining up behind each other and linking arms is such a powerful picture of what we could do together. Same for us. Not MY church, THEIR church, THIS church, THAT church, but THE church!

I think youth leaders ministering to the same areas should remember this truth.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Maybe it’s time that we stopped trying to win the attendance Super Bowl and polishing our trophies for being the powerhouse district youth ministry. Maybe we should swallow some pride, come together and open our playbooks with each other. Maybe you need to reach out to someone who can help you or maybe reach out to someone that YOU can help.

You may be surprised at how many battles we begin winning with more coaches on the same team.


The legendary Mick Jagger once said, “Time is on my side”. Some of you just sang it in your head, some of you just realized what time it was and that you are running late and have so much to do. Lots of people would disagree with Jag’s philosophy and see time as a stresser and a nemesis. Think about how many times you’ve heard someone say “If only there were more hours in a day.” or something similar. This article is to help you at least feel like there is and make the most of every minute.

I don’t claim to be “great” at many things, but for some reason, time management is a super-power of mine. Without trying, I just discovered that I have a unique ability to get tons of stuff done in small amounts of time. This isn’t one of those “I work better under pressure” things. It’s a “work better so I don’t HAVE pressure” thing. Let me share 3 of the things I use that keep me productive and allow me to keep pace with the clock.

1. Do it Now!
This one seems simple but, when you make it a habit, even in small things, it’s a beauty. You get an email that needs a response; do it now. Something laying on your table needs to be put away; do it now. You see the floor needs swept; do it now. You get the idea. So often, we fall victim to that word “procrastination” and it actually just works against the clock and your schedule. All we’re really doing is building a pile of stress we have to deal with eventually. Even if it’s the little things, just do it now!

2. What can I do while I’m waiting?
This concept is my golden nugget! I LOVE this one. My previous job required me to occasionally work in filing. We would scan barcodes, check some info and then slap a label on it to be filed away. The mandatory “rate” was 35 per hour. Well, my super-power kicked in and I discovered a few things I could do while waiting for the computer to do ITS thing. I had free time and a free hand so why waste either? This concept catapulted me into the most hated guy in filing because I began cranking out 75 an hour! Managers loved me and co-workers despised me as I became the new “trainer” and rates went up.

I use this concept every single day. As I wait for the rice to cook, I unload and load the dishwasher. As I sit in the car repair shop (literally writing this in the lounge of Kia!), I work on sermons or blogs. What can you do while waiting? Ask yourself that question every time you find yourself in a “hold”. You’ll be surprised how much you get done, or even how much you get ahead.

3. Eat the frog!
I learned this one from a Pastor named Nelson Searcy. I’m not sure it’s his original idea but, it’s phenomenal and has changed how I think. It’s similar to the first one I listed but different in it’s context. Imagine you have a desk full of things to do and one of them is to eat a live frog. Nothing in you wants to do it (I hope) but it HAS to be done. So you put it off; over and over and over, doing other stuff first. The problem is, it never goes away. He sits there and you see him out of the corner of your eye, knowing it’s inevitable. His croaking becomes distracting and it’s hard to focus on the task at hand.

We all have that “frog”. The phone call you dread making, the email you don’t wanna respond to, the mandatory thing you hate to do most. It sits there and nags at us and in turn, makes us LESS productive because it steals our thoughts and motivation. Eat the frog! Do it first, get it done and move on to the things you would rather be doing, with full focus.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Time is a gift from God. It’s a gift we are expected to be good stewards of. Trying to squeeze in family, work, ministry and anything in between is tough. I get that. But I truly believe that if you walk in wisdom, you’ll breath easier and actually, just maybe, have some time for yourself. Give it a shot!

Do it now!