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“About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, Am I ugly?’

Many of these searchers are preteen and teenage girls. I encourage you to listen to this TED Talk by Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

As a husband and father of two girls, my heart aches and my mind is burdened for the world that they must live in. Our media-saturated culture is providing confusing and often conflicting descriptions of beauty. The confusion is leading girls to search for approval from all the wrong sources, and they often are left feeling even more dissatisfied.

Here are some of the statistics mentioned in Ramsey’s talk:

  • 6 out of 10 girls will choose not to participate in an activity because of feeling like they “don’t look good enough”
  • 31% of girls are withdrawing from classroom debate because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves
  • 1 in 5 have girls have not shown up at school when they don’t feel like they look good
  • Girls who think they “don’t look good enough” or “aren’t thin enough” score lower on exams than peers who don’t have those same thoughts
  • 17% of women will not go to a job interview on a day when they don’t feel like they look good enough.
  • These feelings leave girls and women at a higher risk of unhealthy habits, lower self-esteem, depression, and easily influenced by others.

The research they’ve collected is scary. I am thankful for individuals and a company that wants to be a positive influence for young girls. At the same time, there is something missing from their plan.

The Gospel.

I believe the Gospel has the ultimate answer to the question, “Am I ugly or beautiful?” As a pastor, I want all young women to see that they have a much greater beauty and identity as a child of God. As a husband and father, I want my girls to know and believe that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I want them to know that their acceptance and identity is found in Jesus Christ–and in Him alone. I want them to live with boldness and confidence because the God of grace has transformed them into something more beautiful than anything.

 

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I read that written goals are more likely accomplished, and accountability makes those goals even more effective. So in 2014, I tried something new and shared the goals that I had set for myself.  I kept those goals visible in my office throughout the year, but the results were not what I was expecting. In fact, I think it was better.

Not better because I accomplished all the goals. I didn’t. I came close to accomplishing some and utterly failed on some. But one of them literally changed my life.

As our church was preaching, teaching, and discussing God’s grace and it’s effects on our life, I wanted to learn more about grace, pay more attention to the grace applied to my life, and extend grace to others. From sermons, books, conversations, and life experiences—God took me on such an amazing adventure to discover more about His grace. I have not graduated from grace, but this past year has led me to a deeper appreciation and worship for God and His glorious grace!

What’s my goal for 2015?

As I’m becoming more and more aware of my need for Jesus and God’s immense grace to give me all I need in Jesus, I want to experience more of Him. I want to grow in my discipline to spend time speaking to God and listening for His voice. So, for 2015, my goal is to learn more about prayer and be disciplined to pray.

I’ve started by reading some of the writings on prayer by E.M. Bounds. He says:

“For prayer is of transcendent importance. Prayer is the mightiest agent to advance God’s work. Praying hearts and hands only can do God’s work. Prayer succeeds when all else fails. Prayer has won great victories, and rescued, with notable triumph, God’s saints when every other hope was gone. Men who know how to pray are the greatest boon God can give to earth—they are the richest gift earth can offer heaven. Men who know how to use this weapon of prayer are God’s best soldiers. His mightiest leaders.”

This gets me fired up! God, make me disciplined in prayer so that I can be used by You in the things that You are doing!

I’ve always struggled to be disciplined in prayer, but I enter this year wanting and expecting God to change me.

 

Leadership Lessons

August 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

Follow the leader

Earlier this week, I shared about God opening the door for a new ministry role. The announcement about the change was made to the church on Sunday, but I’ve actually been serving in this role since July 1. Over the past month, I’ve already felt God stretching me and teaching me in multiple areas.

One of my new responsibilities is overseeing our Fellowship Kids staff. This includes 7 full-time team members, 1 part-time team member, and currently 1 intern. I love that I’m getting the chance to lead leaders, but I’ve got a lot to learn. Here are a few leadership lessons I’m learning as I do my best to lead this team.

1) If you want respect from those who follow you, show respect to those who lead you.

The boss/leader sets the tone for a team. When you show respect and submit to the authority over you, the team gets the chance to see the behavior you desire. I love the guys who are leading me, and I hope our team has the same confidence in me.

2) People need to know why just as much as they need to know what

The team needs to know what is expected of them, but more importantly they need to know why it matters. I’m learning that to being a good leader means taking time to help the team understand the why behind the what.

3) Leaders need the freedom to fail

I’m 100% positive that I will make mistakes. It’s only been a month in this role, and I’ve probably made more than I even realize! To keep the team dreaming and pushing forward, there has to be freedom to trying something new, change things up, and be innovative. Sure, it might end in some epic fails, but I always want to be thinking about how we can better reach children with the Gospel.

4) Value and respect go a long way

I’ve had the privilege of hearing leadership-guru John Maxwell speak a few different times. In each of his talks, I remember him stressing the need for encouragement, respect, and value for every team member. I want each team member to know that they are valuable and critical to our mission of making disciples. I’m slowly learning what that looks like and how to apply it to our team.

5) Lead with confidence and humility

This one is tough for me. I’m working hard to find the balance between confidence and humility in leading. I need to be someone who others can follow, this takes confidence. I want to be someone who others want to follow, this takes confidence and humility.


What other leadership lessons would you share with me?

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Yesterday, our church announced some exciting changes happening in our Family Ministry. Our lead student pastor has moved into the role of Family Pastor and our Jr. High Pastor has stepped up to lead the student ministry. These guys are gifted leaders. I’m excited to see how God uses them in their new roles.

I’m also excited that I will get to work with them as I transition to my new role as FellowshipKids (FSK) Pastor. I will continue to provide leadership for our preteen ministry, but I will also be overseeing staff and programming for all of children’s ministry (birth thru 6th grade). I love this church and I love our children’s ministry staff, so I feel incredibly blessed.

I know this change will stretch and challenge me. It already has! I am praying and seeking God for direction, and I’m trusting In His grace and power.

As for the blog, I’m hoping to get back to sharing ideas, questions, and experiences. When I started in preteen ministry, so many of you gave me encouragement and insight. I’m counting on you to keep it up!