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photo 2If you haven’t taken a stab at Kindness Outreach, the summer is the perfect time for doing a “Lab” – that is, to do some experimenting to learn a few lessons about how to build a heart connection with the those in your community.

Any season has it’s advantages for connecting with people, but the summer works well for both servers and those they serve. The weather is better, so people are outside more, and in general there is a bit of a “Vacation mentality.” This could be the ideal time for your people to take a stab at reaching out.

Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind.

A. Relax.
As we show God’s kindness we are planting seeds more than harvesting crops, at least to begin with. Don’t pay attention to the conventional stats you might be tempted to count, like “How many came to church this month because we served them.” Trust me, they will come, so don’t worry.

Right now the goal is to learn how to enjoy reaching out with the kindness of God “…that leads to a radical life change.” As we reach out in fun, doable ways we will catch the “Virus” of God’s love for others – and begin to see them with new eyes.

B. Have fun!
We have been wired by God to enjoy life. We may need to “Practice,” but as we stick with it, before long, we’ll be having fun like pros!

If we aren’t having a good time, we can’t disguise the truth. Those we touch will pick up on that, they’ll be turned off and won’t want to have anything to do with the God we are inviting them to follow.

Here are a couple of summer “No-Lose” projects to try on for size.
Give Away Bottles of Water
There are lots of places and ways to serve thirsty people in warm weather.

Dollar Car Wash
Wash a car, then give drivers money for the privilege of serving them. Mind blowing!
This is great for involving numbers of people (a minimum of 10 or up to as many as you want if you are able to do several cars at once).

To get the detailed explaination of these and many more projects, pick up “101 Ways To Serve Your Community.” It’s available on Amazon as an instant kindle eBook purchase, or in a paper version as well.

Reaching out in the Fall

September 22, 2012 — 2 Comments

Sometimes I’m asked, “What do you do for outreach when the weather doesn’t cooperate?” It’s not that difficult but it requires a little bit of creativity. Here’s a gimme to help you where you are (unless you’re in Phoenix).

Go out in teams to rake leaves. It’s not that complicated. Needed: Rakes, 55 gall bags, and most importantly some eager beaver people who are willing to get a little grimy.

There’s more to this but you need to go to ServeCoach.com for more details.

Parents tend to stress themselves out in hopes of raising children that are going to “do right” at all times. I know that was my orientation throughout my childrearing years, but looking back now I realize I needlessly drove myself crazy at times in my aspiration to be an error-free parent.

I have a different take on things now. Here are some perspectives I’ve come to. Maybe my reflection will encourage you a bit whether you are facing entering into life as a parent or are a grandparent and coaching parents.

1. Ticked off the in-crowd
The crowd is nearly always in the wrong. They are usually in the majority and as Jesus pointed out time and again, though it’s a tough way to go, to follow their lead is a significant mistake. To stand firm in their convictions, no matter who is their side, is always worth it.

2. Colored outside the lines
I’ve done this fairly consistently for this myself. In fact, I’m something of an expert in this department as they’ve seen me penalized a few times. They’ve picked up on my modeling and haven’t done things the way everyone else has operated and I’m proud of them for it.
Some parents discourage this behavior but I don’t see it that way. Thinking from the outside in is valuable most of the time. All three of them have broken the rules on a fairly regular basis and have been rewarded, not punished, most of the time. Color on!

3. Embarrassed themselves
Is the goal of life to look good – to save face above all things? They’ve known that if you are going to be yourself it’s inevitable you are going to look dumb sometimes.

4. Questioned conventional / expected ways of doing things.
I’m not sure the word “rebellious” is the right choice but it’s pretty close to what I’ve hoped for them, at least to be a little bit that way. No progress is going to be made unless someone thinks outside the box. Life tends to discourage and penalize those who do that, but it’s worth every bit of heat one takes along the way to change the world.

5. Ticked me off.
At times it hasn’t taken much to pull this off! Don’t get me wrong. Long term, it’s a huge mistake to not follow the wisdom of a loving and wise parent. The line is “Honor your parents in the Lord that you may have a long life.” That’s an amazing promise to take to heart, but along the way there has been stress. I’ve endured stress points will all my kids but that’s just part of the deal in helping them come into their distinct adult selves. Those who aren’t allowed to tick off their parents are going to do this later in life, but then it will be messier and more hurtful. Parents, embrace the tick!

This Father’s Day has me thinking of some things I wish I’d shared with my dad a long time ago. Perhaps you too have some things you’d like to share with your dad. It may not be too late. My dad passed away years ago so this is more of an exercise in journaling, but for you there is tomorrow. 

1. “No matter how long I live, you will always be my greatest role model.”
I’ve had models for various areas of expertise come and go throughout life. Most of them have been helpful as they’ve left their mark, but at the core of all I’ve received is the deposit my dad made. He didn’t have to be the world’s best at everything. All I needed to know was that he was the greatest – period. 
2. “Deep down, I want to become like you in your best traits.”
He wasn’t perfect, but his imprint will have the greatest effect on me. I want to be like him in the ways he was strong. I want him to be proud of the person I’ve become. 
3. “Thanks for the sacrifices you made for me.”
I know my dad felt the strain of work many times. Perhaps he even wondered what he’d gotten himself into! But honestly what hard working guy who is totally honest doesn’t have that thought cross his mind occasionally. 
4. “Thanks for having me.”
Looking back it is clear to me there were a lot of decisions he made that led up to me being conceived and born. God orchestrated that but my dad cooperated. I’m grateful for his love for me before I was born. 
5. “Thanks for working hard to provide for me.”
Forty hours plus per week takes the starch out of anyone after a while. To do that for years on end requires a lot of love. No matter where your dad appears to be spiritually on the outside, keep in mind that no man can put in years, even decades, of sacrificial work for a child or a family, and not have some glimmer of spiritual life. 
6. “Thanks for being tough on me at times.” 
There is a hard side to love that’s  hard to see when we are young.
7. “Sorry I spent so much time being angry at you instead of listening to you.”
This is a big one for me. It took years to gain the perspective I needed to realize that my old man was pretty smart all along. Based on conversations and reading it seems that many of us have lived as angry young people while we were home. It took getting out of the house to wake us up to our limitations and our dads’ perspective and big time wisdom. 

If it is too difficult to call your dad tomorrow I’d recommend you go ahead and just tell him you love him, then do something unusual in our day – actually write him a letter by hand. It doesn’t need to be long. Share a few points – maybe lift some of the ones here. You don’t need to be original. Then see what happens. Whether he acknowledges your letter or not – many dads don’t do all that well with words – send it anyway. 

If your dad is gone, write a letter anyway. You can’t send it so hold onto it for a couple of days then read it again on the third day to let it sink in. This is something sacred between you and him no one else needs to see. If the contents are something you wouldn’t mind sharing with your grandchildren file it away. If you rather not see it again, burn it. It will just be something important you expressed that was good to get out. Now move on. 

Refilled by reading

March 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

I’ve been writing a lot lately as I’ve shared on this blog. I can only write so much and then I start to see double.

Something I learned from Stephen King that has been helpful along my journey – as a writer it’s vital to read about as much per day as you write. I’m not sure it’s possible to keep up that ratio every single day, but I love the idea just the same. In the midst of writing I find it refreshing to read as a replenishing exercise. Try it and see if it works for you.

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