The multiple priority myth

I recently heard Greg McKeown, the author of a book called “Essentialism,” speak at a conference.

In his book he points out the word “priority” has been around for many hundreds of years. But we only pluralized this word within recent decades. Fascinating!

Today, because of our pace of life, we have lost track of the principle of priority as we focus on multiple objectives and initiatives. And to be honest … I love this fast paced, multi-hyphenate type of life and schedule. Each week I have many lanes that I am working in which means multiple priorities in any given hour, day or week.

And if I am not careful, I can trick myself into believing and living as though there is more than one “most important thing.”

But the fact is, in my life there can only be ONE priority.

Then everything else I do can flow from the blessings
of keeping the word “priority” singular.

This past weekend in our “BACK IN THE BLACK” teaching series at Parkview I touched on this topic.

Here is one minute of the message.

“STRANGER THINGS” How Getting Bored At Church Can Kill You!

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!

 

What Have We Done?

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

3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks

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”

5 Things To Remember When Team Teaching

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 …

  • voice
  • inflections
  • intensity
  • content

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.

4 Safe Places To Admit Your Junk!

I just launched the “BAGGAGE” series at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicago-land area.  I am honored to be part of the teaching team and find myself traveling from Huntington Beach, California to be with the Parkview crew 12-15 weekends a year.

In the first 10 minutes of this message I littered the stage with about 50 FOLDERS and I told a story of an event that occurred 8 years ago and changed the rest of my life. The bottom line …

WE ALL HAVE FOLDERS!

We all have crap in our past to get past.

So how do we do that?

In this message I talk about 4 safe places to admit your junk.

Check it out.

 

 

How We Unintentionally Make The Devil Our Mentor

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.

Parents, 3 Ways To “Instagram” In The New Year With Your Kids

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!

  1. Call a family meeting.
  2. Tell everyone to get out their phones.
  3. Open Instagram.

Then …

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

The first Christmas from Heavens Perspective

This is the week we remember that God became man and sent us HOPE in the form of a soft skinned baby named Jesus.

It is common during this Christmas season to consider what Jesus did from the vantage point and writings of Matthew or Luke in the Bible as they tell us about Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, innkeeper, angels and Herod.

But I would like us to consider for a moment what Jesus did at Christmas from the vantage point of heaven.

Let’s “Unwrap Hope” from the perspective of heaven.

 

Philippians 2:5-11

 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.