I have decided to write more and less in 2018.
I am not sure about you, but the “less is more” mindset has never been more real or relevant to me.
Time seems to be my most precious commodity.
Therefore, in this New Year, I plan and pray to write less, more often.
In fact, I am working on a post now that I plan to publish in the next 12 hours.
It’s short but sweet and won’t eat too much of your time.
You can apply it, or not.
You can Evernote it, or not.
You can agree with it, or forget it.
It’s a little less is more kinda year.
It feels so good to wake up here.
I am waking up this Father’s Day at the Clark Cabin in the mountains of Southern California. I have a loving and adorable wife and two incredible, unique, strong, brave, faith-filled kids, one in college and one in high school.
And I am thinking, “How did we get here?”
First of all, we didn’t drift here. Our goal from the “early days” of parenting has been to have a WORLD CLASS FAMILY. And because that is true, I knew we couldn’t just drift.
I was young and didn’t know much about how to be a good parent, but I knew enough to rely on God for His guidance as the only Perfect Father. As Rene and I leaned in to God’s Word, seeking His wisdom for our family, God gave us some ideas that have allowed us to have a great family and personal relationships as our kids have moved into high school and college:
- Daddy Day (Time) – When Ruby and Cole were small I would take off work each Friday. This was our Daddy Day. It did not matter who called or what else become urgent – these two were most important.
- Camp Clark (Energy) – When I was a youth pastor I would spend weeks and months planning a retreat for students. That caused me to wonder, what if I put the same amount of energy into my family that I put into our youth group? What could be the result? From a decade of experience as a youth pastor and a decade of experience as a lead pastor, I have seen far too many families who give their everything to their career and their leftovers to their family. And that is what led to “Camp Clark.” I spent several weeks putting together a full blown weekend retreat complete with personal journal, devotion schedule, worship time, recreation time and lights out … JUST FOR MY TWO KIDS! What if you decided to give the same amount of energy and creativity to your family as you do to your job? How WORLD CLASS would your family be?
- Little Notes (Encouragement) – From the time Ruby was old enough to write, she started slipping little notes under our bedroom door at night when she was scared or just wanted to say one more time how much she loved us. Her sweet little notes got us in the habit of leaving little notes for each other. These handwritten notes on bedroom doors, bathroom mirrors, Keurig coffee makers, Bibles, shoes, backpacks, lunch sacks and a hundred other simple places have become a big deal for our family. We keep the notes. They remind us on the tough days that we have a family behind us that believes the best.
- Sand Holes (Boundaries) – I remember the first 10 times we took our preschool age kids to the beach. I would lug all the chairs, shovels, umbrellas, towels and coolers to our ocean-front camp. We would only be there for about 10 minutes, and Ruby and Cole would be upset and ready to go home. I can vividly remember picking up and leaving prematurely time after time. And then the event that changed everything happened. We were packing up to the leave the beach, and as we were leaving we noticed a family next two us with two little kids. Their dad had dug a huge hole for them in the sand, and it had become their world. As we started to leave, Ruby and Cole migrated over to “the hole,” and before we knew it, they were in this new world with the other two kids. They played for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20 minutes had gone by, and they weren’t even thinking about leaving “the hole.” I thought to myself, “Could this be it?” Could this be the answer to all our premature beach departures? To make a long story medium length, it was the answer. The hole actually translated into boundaries for our kids. When we arrived at the beach with no boundaries it was intimidating and expansive and scary. But the hole created a safe place. The hole was the answer, and for the next 10 years it was my first duty upon arriving at the beach.
- NOTE: Today we don’t dig holes in the sand for Ruby and Cole as they are 16 and 19 years old, but we do still create healthy boundaries for them that make life feel less scary and intimidating. We create boundaries that allow them to enjoy and soak up life just like they did on the beach all those years ago.
- Family Dream Sessions (Vision) – Each summer since Ruby and Cole were in elementary school we have gathered together at the beginning of June to consider our summer. This 1-2 hour family dream session has become a family tradition, and this is one of the main ingredients that has led us to experience a WORLD CLASS FAMILY.
If you’d like to know more, I have written a whole post called “How To Lead A Family Dream Session.” Check it out.
In this unique, crazy, divergent season of my life I am running into so many who are living curiously. My goal in these “Who’s Inspiring Me” posts is to share with you those who are inspiring me … so I can instigate a curious life in you. These seven leaders will wreck you … in a good way!
CJ Casciotta – I have known CJ from a distance and followed his podcast “Sounds Like A Movement” (which he just sold) for many months. But I just got to have a coffee with CJ in Huntington Beach last week. He is an instigator of all things curious. He feels like an old friend who I just met. CJ is a writer, director, and advocate for weird-thinking. You are going to love this fellow!
Shaun Smith – I don’t know Shaun personally but this dude is curious and has a wicked eye for wave photography. He inspires me with his craft and infectious personality. I am hoping to have some of his photos on Eat Art this summer!
If you are around the beach in Laguna, Newport or Huntington you might see Shaun with his GoPro in the water. I’m stoked to s)(oot with you this summer Shaun.
Instagram – @smitherspix
Rene Clark – I have known this girl since she was 15 years old … and this has been her best year yet. Check out Rene’s new website for all her curious and Kingdom minded endeavors. Including LifePlan retreats at the beach!
Tim Ferriss – If you have not read this guys books (The Four Hour Work Week | Body | Chef) or listened to his podcast … go do it today. Tim never ceases to instigate curious thoughts in my mind that can sidetrack me for minutes or days. I am reading the thickest book I have ever read this summer – “Tools for Titans” by Tim.
Twitter – @tferriss
Instagram – @TimFerriss
Web – www.tim.blog
Only check him out if you want to write books and build benevolent businesses that inspire people.
Twitter – @jjaggard
Instagram – @jjaggard
Web – www.jasonjaggard.com
I am a huge fan of the Hurley brand and Ryan Hurley. From their clothing to their efforts for students and benevolent causes – this is a guy I hope to have coffee with in Newport Beach one day this summer.
Here is the latest post on Instagram from Ryan: This Friday, Jon, the founder of @wavesforwater, will be showing you how he’s built a life around doing what you love and helping along the way in an intimate setting complete with live music, food and more. Hit the link in our bio to reserve your spot for the event happening in Los Angeles, CA this Friday June 16, at @winstonhouse
Web – www.hurley.com
Ryan Hurley Instagram – @ryanhurley
Hurley surf club Instagram – @hurleysurfclub
Chad Veach – I don’t’ know Chad but as a former church planter in the LA area I am so inspired by this fellow Los Angeles / SoCal planter. Chad is the Pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles, California. Chad has three kiddos and a wife, Julia, who I hope my daughter Ruby can meet some day for coffee!
Chad has insane faith, style, energy, Bible-based messages and an Instagram feed that includes backstage footage of Justin Beibers latest tour. He has written an incredible book “Unreasonable Hope” that documents the families journey with their daughter Georgia and dealing with the pain of a diagnosis of a debilitating disease.
Chad is normal and not normal all at once.
Church – Zoe Church
Twitter – @chadveach
Instagram – @chadcveach
A big reason I love the Bible is it doesn’t edit out the “stranger things.”
I spoke this past weekend at Parkview Christian Church in Chicagoland about what can happen when a person gets bored with their church and faith. How getting bored can cause you to “fall out” of faith and church. And that can oftentimes lead you to die.
But the good news is …
all it often takes to restore the life of a person
who has “fallen out” is for
someone to put their arms around them!
This message could be for you, a co-worker, class-mate, neighbor, kids or grandkids …
Check it out and learn the unique lessons from Eutychus in Acts chapter 20 as he “LITERALLY ” falls out of church!
We have embarked on a new adventure of helping people find peace with who they are and courage to do what God has called them to do.
WE GOT A LIFE PLAN.
As we’ve been adjusting to our current season of change (move, job change, daughter off to college, son off to a new high school), a friend suggested we get a LifePlan done. We had heard a little about the LifePlan process, but we didn’t see how it would apply to us since we felt pretty secure in the plans we had made for this season of our life. But our friend kept pressing, so we investigated a little and decided to give it a try.
Turns out, a LifePlan is exactly what we needed
to find clarity and affirmation
for this next season of our lives.
Rene and I entered the LifePlan process with Doug Slaybaugh in San Clemente, California. Our desire was to discover how to live out God’s purpose for our lives in this new season. We both came out of the LifePlan process with a clear objective on how to do that.
We are feeling a great sense of peace with who we are and how God made us. One of the things a LifePlan does is bring great clarity to a persons life purpose.
For instance, Rene discovered that one of her life’s purposes is to empower women to take steps toward God.
I discovered that I have a passion for helping high achievers be healthy.
These are things that are true to our very core.
They have always been true,
but we needed a little guidance in excavating these truths,
and our facilitator took us through a strategic process
to dig it out, name it, and get it on paper.
After experiencing the LifePlan process together in San Clemente, California, Rene booked a trip to Boulder, Colorado, and completed her training with the Paterson Center to become a Certified LifePlan Facilitator. She now has the tools and the training to come alongside women and guide them toward discovering God’s unique purpose for their lives.
A LifePlan is a two-day, intensive process of soul work.
It’s a guided exploration of your life experiences,
your passions and your talents,
getting it all on paper,
and discovering God’s unique plan for your life.
Whether you’re starting something, letting something go, or you’re somewhere in-between, you need perspective and purpose. A LifePlan will help you gain perspective on who God created you to be and find purpose in whatever God wants you to do next.
Rene would love to help you pursue your own story so that you can give your best self to the people in your life.
Are you ready for a LifePlan with Rene?
If you’re a woman in ministry, a LifePlan can help you clarify your passion.
If you’re married to a pastor, a LifePlan can give you confidence to boldly step into your calling.
If you’re a MomBoss, a LifePlan can help you find balance and purpose.
If you would like to get a LifePlan scheduled with Rene this summer, learn more at ReneClark.Com
Over the past six months, I have consulted with churches and communicators about the effectiveness of their messages.
Some messages are incredibly powerful, and some are not, which leads to the question, “What is the difference between a perfect message and a powerful message?”
Let me answer this question through these lenses: Continue reading “3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks”
Recently my wife, Rene Clark, and I did some team teaching at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicagoland area where I am stoked to be a teaching pastor.
We have spent time teaching together in the past, but I have never shared any of our rhythm for preparing, praying and presenting as a team. So … here you go, friends:
Our message on LEVITICUS / “Take Me To The Cleaners” and 5 things to think about when team teaching:
1. Know your subject more than you know your notes.
I believe Carey Nuiewhof is the first person I heard talk about how a communicator should know their subject not just their notes.
This becomes even more true in team teaching because you must bounce off each other, and you alone do not have control of the flow at all times. There are times you must build a bridge in team teaching and insert something you know about the subject that appears nowhere in your notes!
2. Transitions matter.
It is much more difficult to team teach than teach alone, in my opinion. But team teaching also adds an element that a solo person teaching can rarely achieve. That being said, when you are teaching with another person you must take time to think through transitions.
You will each have different …
And as much as possible these things need to match up when you make the hand off. This is not always easy to do as you will see in our message on Leviticus. We still have some work to do in transitions.
But we do work hard and spend much time talking through transitions so we can keep things as congruent as possible for the congregation.
3. Create space for each person to prepare on their own.
No two people prepare themselves or their message in the same way.
You should take time to prepare your sections of the message on your own … but also spend time during the preparation process bouncing ideas, intros, endings and illustrations off of each other. This is the genius of team teaching.
In addition, when it’s an hour before go time … each person prepares their heart, mind and soul in different ways.
Allow time to speak through the message together 2-3 hours before the message arrives so that when you are 30-60 minutes out, each person can come to God and prepare their heart, mind and soul in their own unique way.
4. Do a walk through.
When you are on stage by yourself … you are by yourself.
When you add another person to the often small stage space, it can make even little movements awkward. As you will see in our Leviticus “Take Me To The Cleaners” message, we had to make sure we were not stepping in front of or behind each other at odd times. This is super distracting for the congregation.
As you will see our movements were pretty choreographed as we spent time on the stage before the message actually “blocking out” our movements like a theater or dance production.
5. Know who you are talking to.
There will be three potential audiences for your message in most churches these days.
You will be talking to …
- Each other
- The congregation that is in the room
- Those who are watching at a multi-site campus or online
Therefore, it is important to makes notes concerning who you are talking to during each sentence or section.
Most of the time you will be talking to those in the room or the camera that is capturing the video for the sites and online audiences. This requires that you not regularly look at or bounce off the person who is standing just a few feet from you on stage.
Then there are certainly times when teaching as a team that you want to interact mainly with the person you are teaching alongside.
This is part of the special sauce of team teaching.
Interacting with each other adds intimacy; often humor and spontaneity will make teaching as a team powerful and meaningful in ways that teaching alone can rarely match.
For nearly 15 years I think I made the devil my mentor.
Here is how it happened.
When I was in college I had a weekend youth ministry in Kansas City. Each Friday after finishing my classes in Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple) I would drive to KC to spend the weekend leading junior high and high school students. It was an amazing, challenging, rewarding and exhausting season.
I can remember one Sunday evening standing in the little church kitchen and considering my drive back to school. It was 9pm, and I still had 2-3 hours of homework to complete when I got back to school for Monday classes. I also had several days of travel with the soccer team that coming week. I was feeling overwhelmed.
As I looked around the kitchen for some food to take back to college I can remember saying out loud, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!”
How could I keep giving everything to …
- My studies
- These students in Kansas City
- My soccer team / scholarship requirements
- My fiancé (that’s another story)
How could I continue living this life of zero margin where I lived in the future and skimmed in the now?
As I was considering these things my senior pastor entered the kitchen and leaned up against the old pea soup green refrigerator. He asked how I was doing, and I let the dam burst. I told him everything that was on my mind and how I felt I was spreading myself thin and giving no one the best version of myself.
And I can remember exactly what he said …
“Well Todd, the devil never takes a break.”
And I lived with that mantra of never taking a break in my mind for the next 15 years.
And you may be reading this right now saying, “Hello! I agree! That is true. Buck up, Todd. The devil never does take a break, so we can never take a break.”
And what is strange is, I agree.
The devil never seems to take a break.
The only problem with aligning our life with that truth is …
It makes the devil your mentor.
Listen friends, if you never say no to anyone and you try to care for everything, you will soon find you don’t care for anything.
We all know that we must steward our energy, time and even finances …
But did you realize you must even steward your compassion? I know that sounds so strange and almost anti-biblical. Don’t we have unlimited amounts of compassion? Doesn’t God give us energizer bunny amounts so that we can indeed never take a break in ministry?
The answer is no.
You do not have an unlimited capacity to care.
Even Jesus did not have unlimited capacity to care. Even Jesus had to steward his compassion right along with his energy and his time.
One of the strangest things I have learned in 25 years of ministry is that you must actually reserve some care and compassion for the people and things you love most.
If you make the devil your mentor you will justify “never stopping,” but you will end up “quitting.”
Knowing when to stop and rest and replenish your reserves is actually the very thing that will keep you from quitting.
Stopping something is not the same as quitting something.
So leaders, if you have spent the last few years living at peace with a completely out of balance life and saying in some form or another, “Hey, the devil never takes a break.”
If you have used that sentence as justification for almost any situation … my advice would be to realize what I realized.
It is true that the devil never takes a break.
But patterning your life after that truth makes the devil your mentor.
Ok, let’s keep this simple.
Most parents and grandparents want to create some cool memories this New Year with their kids …
Most kids want to be on their phones in this New Year …
So, let’s combine those things!
- Call a family meeting.
- Tell everyone to get out their phones.
- Open Instagram.
Give Thanks – Ask everyone to look back over the year and find one picture they are thankful for, ask them to read the caption and explain why they are thankful.
- The only pushback here is going to be your kids saying, “Just one picture?”
Offer Prayer – Look back over the year in pictures and find one person or family that your family can pray for as this New Year begins.
Send Encouragement – Find a person in your past year’s photos that you can send a text of encouragement to today.
- Maybe send them the picture, too, and let them know you are thinking about them!
To create your own 2016 Best Nine (like the photo at the top of this post) go to www.2016bestnine.com
Bear: A person from your past who might harm your future.
I was recently made aware of a bear who had spoken some harmful and untrue words about me to a another person, and those words negatively affected my future. It’s important to note that even the person to whom the bear spoke, didn’t believe the bear, but I was still concerned …
- Had the bear done this to me before, and I was unaware of it?
- Would the bear do this again?
I went to bed that night planning to poke the bear the next day. In fact, I had already spent much time and energy preparing my arsenal to unload on the bear. This bear didn’t stand a chance.
However, when I woke up the next day I felt different. A good night’s sleep had recalibrated my confidence and refreshed my perspective.
I decided not to poke the bear.
Here’s why …