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I’m in a season with very little margin. My calendar is overloaded with important things to do, and each day seems to add to the pile. I literally wrote this post while jogging on the treadmill because there’s just no other time! In this season, I find myself asking God to help me manage and help me see changes that can make me more effective for His Kingdom. Here are a few things I’m learning to do when life gets too busy:

1. Make a strategic list

I have a To-Do list have all the things that need to get done. That list is always growing. But recently, I’ve started to make strategic lists. I got some great ideas from Kenny Conley and how his team is using an idea from Bill Hybels. My strategic list contains the 3-4 things that I’m going to focus on for the next three months. I still have small tasks that need to get done, but the focus of my time and energy is just 3-4 initiatives. So far, this strategic list has helped keep my work very intentional and focused. I may be “doing less” but I’m accomplishing more.

2. Make time for time off

Once I start something, I will not walk away until it’s finished. This is the sickness that makes me stay up till 1:30 am to install a couple of under-the-counter lights. It’s also the sickness that tells me I don’t have time for time off.

In the middle of the busyness when I’m tempted to just keep plugging away until burn out, I have to intentionally schedule minutes, hours, days, even weeks to break from the work. Whether it’s a five-minute walk or a week at the beach (Hallelujah, that’s next week!), time off is necessary. It’s hard to step away from unfinished business, but I’ve realized that I’m much more effective when I return from a time off.

3. Ask for help

I don’t like to ask for help. It’s a pride thing–which is a sin thing. I like to do things my way on my timing, and I hate feeling like I’m putting someone else out by needing their help. But in the middle of this busy season, I’ve learned to ask for help.

I’ve learned that holding “To-Dos” tightly—especially in ministry—is robbing someone else from the opportunity to serve God. He may have gifted them for a task or His Spirit prompted them to act, so who am I to selfishly hold onto it. Asking for help gets others involved, and it helps me remember to focus on people not just tasks.

4. Pray More

It’s funny that I began the year asking God to build the discipline of prayer in my life, and of course He’s doing it in a way I didn’t expect. Instead of a relaxing study on prayer, I feel as though God—in His sovereignty everything—has put me in a position where I’m much more aware of my need for Him.

There are times when I look at the to-dos and I am paralyzed with worry and fear. But those moments are teaching me the power and the peace that comes from prayer. The busyness of this season is teaching me that I don’t need more time, I need more Jesus. I don’t have to stress about the things I can’t accomplish because I am able to rest in what He has already accomplished.

It’s amazing how a strategy and the right perspective can change the feelings about being busy. When I’m able to remember these lessons, I feel much more focused and energized to do what needs to be done.

I’m thankful for the lessons that God is teaching me in this busy season, and even more thankful that my relationship with Him is based on the finished work of Jesus and not my unfinished to-do list!

Confession: I don’t handle conflict well. I tend to shy away from conflict because of fear. Other times, I respond to conflict with selfish anger that only creates more conflict.

Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” God calls every follower of Jesus to be a peacemaker, but what does that look like? How do I practice peacemaking without being too passive or too aggressive?

Knowing that I don’t handle conflict well, I looked for resources to help me. I remembered a class in seminary that required me to read The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. I highly recommend this book. This book has helped me to see how the Gospel should shape my view of conflict and how I respond to moments of tension.

In his book, Sande describes what a peacemaker looks like. He says:

“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life. God delights to breathe his grace through peacemakers and use them to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and encourage repentance and reconciliation.” 1

The Peacemaker offers so much wisdom and practical advice for how to grow in peacemaking. I love how Sande points to the grace of God as the reason we should and the sole means by which we can forgive others.

We all face conflict. The question is: Are we handling conflict Biblically and beneficially? Conflict can be the perfect opportunity to glorify God and grow in your relationship with others. Here’s a link to get your copy of The Peacemaker.

1 Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, May 2007), 11.

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A few days ago, Mattmo.org turned 4 years old. I started blogging when I took a new job at Fellowship Bible Church as the Preteen Pastor because I wanted to connect with other children’s and preteen ministry leaders.

Blogging has helped to make those connections with some amazing leaders, but it’s also taught me some valuable lessons.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned through blogging:

 

1. There is a bigger community out there than you realize.

Blogging has taught me that there is literally a worldwide community that endures the same successes and failures. I’ve received comments, questions, and encouragement from ministry leaders that were across the globe and some from my own city. We were all strangers until this website connected our ministries and us. I love the lessons and encouragement that comes with this community!

2. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Even more than writing, I love reading blogs. I have the utmost respect for those who consistently share great thoughts because it is hard. It’s hard to find the time. It’s hard to find the energy. And it’s hard to get over the fear that no one cares about what you’re sharing. (And that’s not even mentioning all the tech stuff that you have to learn!)

3. Sometimes you lose your voice (but that’s OK).

Like losing your voice after shouting at a sporting event, I’ve gone through seasons in the last 4 years when I had lost my voice. Sometimes God was just overwhelming with lessons that I couldn’t put into words. Other times, I just didn’t feel like there was anything worth sharing. I’ve realized that losing your voice is OK. I regret being a silent blogger for long periods, but it beats the alternative, which is sharing with a voice that is not my own,

4. Sharing is caring.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in the last 4 years of blogging is: Sharing is Caring! The big “C” Church needs to share more. We’re on the same mission to make disciples who whole-heartedly love and follow Jesus, so why not share resources, encouragement, and ideas. As mattmo.org moves forward, I want it to be a go-to place for resources that will help leaders, churches, and families in their mission of making disciples.

It’s been a fun 4 years. Thank you for being a part of this community! I look forward to sharing more and hearing from you!

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There are many parts to Preteen Ministry that can be difficult to figure out, but the most difficult has got to be engaging preteens in worship. I’m talking specifically about musical worship…You know that time when preteens stand and stare at you like your hair is one fire! It’s crazy how difficult preteen worship can be.

That’s why I’m so extremely thankful for Ashley Briggs. She is leads our preteen worship and girls’ discipleship groups. She’s coming up with ways to get our 5th and 6th graders engaged in worship, and she’s involving many of them in leading worship. If you are leading preteens in worship, you really need to connect with her.

To help the preteen ministries on our other campuses, Ashley put together a list of songs that are working well in worship with our preteens. I thought there might be a few other that could benefit from the list that she put together. Since sharing is caring, here you go:

Top 12 Worship Songs for (our) Preteen Ministry:

  1. Alive in Us by We the Union

  2. Alive by Hillsong Young and Free

  3. God’s Not Dead by Kristian Stanfill

  4. Always by Kristian Stanfill

  5. Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin

  6. At Your Name by Phil Wickham

  7. Lord I Need You by Matt Maher

  8. This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham

  9. Here for You by Matt Redman

  10. One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture

  11. Burning in My Soul by Matt Maher

  12. Don’t Ever Stop by Chris Tomlin

Hope this list will help as you lead preteens in worship. What songs would you add to the list?