Sunday, February 21, 2016

The MIX Winter Retreat - No Days OFF

T. Pope joined the several churches from Lawrence County, Pa at the Riverplex in New Castle, PA to share a message from God's Word in 2 Timothy 4. Grab you Bible, a pen, a highlighter, and enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2016


T. Pope joined the campers, kaleos, staff, hip hop artists, and parents at the Robinson Theatre in Church Hill to share a message from God's Word in 1 Timothy 1. Grab you Bible, a pen, a highlighter, and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CRU@ The University of Michigan - Race and the Gospel

T. Pope joined the Cru chapter at the University of Michigan to share a message from God's Word in Philemon on the current hot topic Race and the Gospel. Grab you Bible, a pen, a highlighter, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

TNT@Kent State University with T. Pope - The Legacy You Leave

T. Pope joined the Coalition for Christian Outreach and the Cru Impact chapter at Kent State University to share a message from God's Word in 2 Timothy 2. Grab you Bible, a pen, a highlighter, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Teamwork 101: How to Motivate Your Team to Success (Part 2)

C = Celebrating what you want to see more!

Success Means Never Feeling Tired, an article by Dr. Mortimer Adler supports the notion that success is the most motivating human factor. There is nothing like knowing you are doing the right thing or at the right time or for the right reasons. Celebration for the little things is a lost art as we have come to expect them in every day life. I appreciate watching football and seeing fans, coaches, teammates, and/or the players themselves get excited after each play.

Celebration can look a million difference ways, whether acknowledgement, award, adventure, or affirmation. Either way, celebration must communicate the accomplishment of a goal and when leaders celebrate their teams’ successes, they guarantee more times of celebration. But when leaders do not celebrate their teams’ successes, they guarantee increasing times of frustration and resentment. After all, the age old adage says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”

L = Listening with your ears, eyes, and undivided attention.

Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, names quality time one of the five. While it may not be each team member’s chief love language, everyone wants to be considered. When a person on your team is speaking, listen with your ears, eyes, and undivided attention. It may be helpful to silence your phone, turn it down, or turn it off. If you have a laptop, close your screen, and if it’s a desktop, consider turning off your screen or relocating where you can listen without distraction. Make eye contact with other members of your team. Actively listen with head nods and affirming sounds or words. Ask strategic, relevant, and thoughtful questions so others know you are listening and engaged. Leaders who listen will know their teammates a lot better than those who don’t. Those relational investments will pay dividends in years to come if a relational withdrawal is necessary. Yet, if relational withdrawals frequently occur, it won’t be long before relational bankruptcy. Remember, people quit people before anything else, so listen closely, carefully, and continually.

E = Expressing your deep gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices of others.

Another love language Gary Chapman identifies is words of affirmation. While we often think about the efforts and sacrifices of others, many of us rarely find the time or words to say or pen a thank you. We take people like our parents, relatives, siblings, bosses, co-workers, protégés, children, and mentors for granted. One of the ways we can show more gratitude is express it with words. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, once said, “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.” Someone once well said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” If you are not a words person, it may be helpful to go to Hallmark or even a dollar store and stock up on Thank You cards and notes that express your gratitude. Even writing thank you and the person’s first and last name in a card or providing a gift card for them is much better than nothing. And a thank you is certainly always better late than never.

A = Assuming everyone on your team is intelligent, capable, and working diligently with the best interest of others at heart.

I know what they say about assuming, but if you don’t assume these particular things for your team, you will not build trust, depth of relationship, and camaraderie. Whether you put your team together or not, it’s the team you have and if you can’t get out of it, get into it! Attack it before it attacks you. When we believe the best about others, without naiveté, but a genuine and heartfelt desire to see others do their best, we create environments of community, humility, responsibility, integrity, sacrifice, trust, and accountability. It would not be hard to be transparent in such an environment because each team member would know they are amongst friends more than co-workers. Competitions for such a team stay true to the word and jointly strive for the best and common good of all team members. We all desire to be a part of a team where we know we are accepted for who we are and pushed to reach our potential and be the best version of ourselves possible.

R = Reminding your team of their God-given worth, value to the work process, and difference their making.

There’s nothing quite like knowing your value. When you don’t know your value, you are willing to settle for less than the best rather than battle for excellence in every area. Knowing your value allows you to work with confidence because your identity is not in the team or organization. That confidence brings excitement and energy to the work process, therefore marking you as one of the most valuable players. Such a confident attitude makes all the difference in the lives of your co-workers, leaders, and customers.

Another great practice for organizations and teams is debriefing the past. Want a priceless resource? Review the fruit of your labor, the progress you’ve made, the lives touched or changed, and neighborhoods affected by the work of your own hands and the hands of those on your team. The more we remind ourselves of those truths, triumphs, and even trials of storms we weathered together, the closer we grow and deeper we go in relationship. That kind of teamwork is unstoppable. It is unified. And its product is undeniable. And the reason the product is undeniable: The product is your team.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Teamwork 101: How to Motivate Your Team to Success

“Teamwork will make your dream work.” - Anonymous

As a Christian camp director, husband, and dad of five children under 8 years old, time and energy are precious commodities to steward with the utmost efficiency. There are 7 schedules to coordinate in our home, not to mention the agendas swirling the activities in our community such as PTA, MOPS, YMCA, etc. As Christians we strongly believe it is our civil responsibility to embrace our community and communicate the love of Jesus. Though our time is thin, we seek to make the best of it by focusing on the first and most important things. But as you can imagine, our energy waxes and wanes more than the moon. In fact, in September of 2014, with the time and energy banks mostly depleted, my wife started a multi-level marketing home business through Young Living called Natural Talk.

Honestly, we argued over it for about a year and a half until I noticed something. My wife’s energy level was significantly higher and I had more time. She was up just about every morning before 6:30 and I was up before 5:30, spending time with the Lord in prayer and devotion each morning, and exercising each day. Initially, I thought it was the length of time we had without a pregnancy. Yet, I also noticed something through her business, she grew in decision-making, confidence, structure, routine, and even assertiveness. She was leading a team of women, conducting classes in person, on Periscope, and on FaceBook. She was staying up later than I had seen her stay up since before we were married but still getting up early. I couldn’t deny she was growing as a leader. So I said, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” I began to pray with and for my wife regarding her business, joyfully (for the most part) steward the books of our business (Did I just say “our?”), and even help her plan promotions and parties. We both found greater joy in working as a team (albeit we still fought quite a bit, but at least as a team). We invested in a marriage book called Team Us by Ashleigh Slater that confirmed what I was learning. Then, I saw Michael Hyatt’s post on 5 Ways To Energize Your Team, and while the wording we use is a little different, the principles are the same. It was as clear as could be that you will motivate your team and be successful, if you are C.L.E.A.R.

C = Celebrating what you want to see more!
L = Listening with your ears, eyes, and undivided attention
E = Expressing your deep gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices of others.
A = Assuming everyone on your team is intelligent, capable, and working diligently with the best interest of others at heart.
R = Reminding your team of their God-given worth, value to the work process, and difference their making.

Check back tomorrow for more thorough explanations on each.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vision 101: The Foundational Principles of Vision Casting (Part 3)

III. Stewardship propels the future

If it is true that vision drives the future and your team must be able to sustain the vision, then great leaders steward their teams as their greatest asset.

When you have the right vision, then you go after the right team. If you have the right team, then you must do what it takes to steward that team to the best of your ability and the best of their interest. The culture and environment that the right vision with the right team will create also creates the right schedule. The daily schedule and yearly calendar should prioritize the vision, mission, and purpose of your organization. It also creates the right motto/theme. Each year, week, month, or even day should have a theme or motto to which all leaders can refer, and it should promote the philosophy, strategy, and history of your organization. Lastly, it also should create the right activity. Organized team activities will provide opportunities to practice the core values of your organization. With these things in place, you can take care of your team and offer them to the world as your greatest asset. You cannot complete your vision without your team, and if your vision ceased to exist, who would miss it and what exactly would they miss? What is the greater risk to you: to fail in a worthy endeavor due to lacking the right team and the proper stewardship of that team, or to miss the opportunity for eternal impact due to a fear of failure?

Your future will only be a reflection of the prayer, time, energy, and hard work you put in today. Based upon your preparation, what are you expecting? What seeds have you sown today that will sprout tomorrow? Are you expecting a harvest white with ripe fruit or a desert of dry and thirsty land? Sow seeds of diligence today and reap the benefits of your preparation in the future. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vision 101: The Foundational Principles of Vision Casting (Part 2)

II. Leadership insures the future.

If leaders of the organization buy into the vision set in front of them, they will be the mechanism to manage the opportunity for growth and success.

Leaders provide the character, determination, and skill to build an environment of symbolic convergence. Character is the qualities stamped upon a person’s heart. The greatest assets thereof are humility (knowing who you are enough to compare your utmost and greatest against all competitors, God included, and thereby seeing the greatness of your smallness) and integrity (the quality of being whole, intact, undivided, unimpaired, or sound. Without character, the team will find unity and accountability difficult. No one would take responsibility for shortcomings. Skill is talent refined by the fire of practice and experience in real time. The greatest assets of skill are capability (the ability to perform a task) and talent (natural aptitude or shaped intelligence). Without skill the team will find it difficult to perform tasks on time and as directed. No one would be able to trust his/her teammates because of an inability to know the condition of the final product. Remember, practice makes permanent and consistency breeds excellence. Without skill, a team cannot proficiently, efficiently, and effectively provide a consistently excellent final product. Determination is the ability and process of terminating deterrence with extreme prejudice. The greatest assets of determination are authority (self-governing ability) and responsibility (the ability to appropriately act with courage and self-possession). Without determination opportunities become obstacles. Change is a pain and both the successes and failures of the organization are always the same. When the leaders on a team buy into the vision, they will all fiercely steward it because it belongs to all of them and not just the visionary. Yet, the opposite is also true. Leaders will not fiercely steward the vision they don't own because it only belongs to the visionary. The culture created by the leadership team helps to create an immune system to regulate routine. Routine saves time as leaders learn the culture of the organization and develop environments for healthy growth, competency, efficiency, and proficiency. Yet, this immune system also exposes the pain of stagnation if routine becomes management when it needs vision casting.

Management maintains the vision of the past, and therefore, it is not the case that management is bad. It is certainly a type of leadership. Surely, there are times when an organization needs the steadiness of a governing leader who maintains the values and morals of the organization that have taken it from good to great. Yet, at other times an organization becomes stagnant, and management hampers healthy growth, competency, efficiency, and proficiency. It is in those times that visionary leadership draws toward the vision for the future, pioneering a path that asks the startling question, “How do we apply the vision of our forefathers to today’s world, in such a way that it insures the success of the vision for years to come?” When David chose his might men, he chose, "of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," (1 Chronicles 12:32). Vision demands some sons of Issachar in every organization who understand the times and know exactly what to do.

Remember, change is inevitable, but growth is optional. As adapted from Ruby K. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty, there are really only four reasons a person/organization chooses to change:

1.     A situation is too painful to continue.
2.     A goal or vision calls for immediate change/growth.
3.     A “sponsor” initiates a significant relationship, whether that is a change in leadership or change in ownership.
4.     A skill, gift, talent, or new capability/market that the organization sees value in pursuing.

When the pain of stagnation becomes greater than the pain of change, people are forced to make choices. Yet, those choices are futile without vision. Ken Friar, the executive vice president of InJoy Stewardship Solutions said, “From good to best, move toward unrest.” In other words, as he also stated, “There is no growth in the comfort zone and there is never comfort in the growth zone.” Someone once well said, “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail.” Sure, routine saves time, but it cannot be an excuse to remain the same, nor should it be mistaken for symbolic convergence. Symbolic convergence is the theory explaining how meanings, emotions, values, and motives for action are hidden in the rhetoric that is co-created by people trying to make sense out of a common experience. So remember, common experiences create common bonds, but uncommon experiences create uncommon bonds teaching that each ending is actually a transition to the beginning of the first day of the rest of your life. Ultimately, the leadership of an organization is the only resource an organization has to offer the world because leaders reproduce themselves. If it is true that vision drives the future, then your team must be able to sustain the vision.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Vision 101: The Foundational Principles of Vision Casting

After attending a pastoral coalition meeting today where Ken Friar, the executive vice president of Injoy Stewardship Solutions, taught on funding your vision, it was time to put some thoughts down about vision. There are three parts to this and we will continue to Fire Up February by them over the next few days. Stay tuned. Here's part one:

Vision 101: The Foundational Principles of Vision Casting

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” – John C Maxwell

Vision is a clear mental portrait of the future.

“Vision is the art of seeing invisible things.” – Jonathan Swift

It is the careful consideration of what is
The deep conviction of what should be
The preview of what could be
It is fueled by a passion for what would be with cooperative effort.

I. Vision drives the future.

No one can make proper decisions without vision. How can a person/organization know the appropriate budget, make decisions about the future, or calculate risks without vision? After all, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint,” (Proverbs 29:18). Remember, vision can only go as far as leadership carries it, and your preparation sets the parameters for your expectation.  In other words, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” (Galatians 6:9). Sow seeds of diligence today so that you can reap the benefits of preparation in days to come, but remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. Prior planning, preparation, and practice prevent poor performances.

The greatest assets of vision are time (the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole) and legacy (the way in which the past and present are bound together). Time allows for the vision to take shape in the future until the present really is a gift to the world. Legacy describes the natural connection between the events of the past, how they influence the present, and how they will continue to shape the future.