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Sunday Celebrations

September 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

This was a rough week–hence no posts since last Sunday.

I woke up last Monday with the feeling that there was a dark cloud over me. I’m not sure what was going on, but I just felt attacked. And the week went similar to that feeling.  It was full of some very difficult decisions and conversations. I really overextended myself with work and that took a toll at home. And on top of all that–I got a traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign!!  When it rains, it pours.

In the midst of all this, I found myself at peace. God is enough and He is teaching me to be satisfied with Him.  Sor for this Sunday, I’m just thankful for God.  I’m thankful that He is wonderful, all-knowing, loving, Holy, just, worthy…He is ENOUGH.

Hi, My name is Matt and I am a negative person.

Ok, so I’m not negative all the time.  But I can get frustrated and become a real party pooper when things don’t go as planned. What do I mean by negative? I mean that I point out mistakes, gossip, complain, judge, and then I try to justify it. God has really been working on me in this area. He has shown me that much of my negativity and complaining comes from pride.  When things go wrong, I often shift blame to others and feel like I could’ve done their job better myself.  The truth is that’s not the truth.  That’s the deception of pride.

So here are a few things that I’m learning about negativity:

1. A negative plus a negative DOES NOT equal a positive
The truth is that you’re never negative alone.  My negative attitude is always pulling someone else down with me.  The complaining and gossip always involves more than me.  This is the biggest problem with having a negative attitude: it’s contagious.  My conviction is that my negative attitude has damaged others and caused them to sin with me.

2. A positive plus a negative CAN equal a positive
In the same way that one negative attitude can be contagious, so can a positive attitude.  There are certain people in my life that point out when I’m being negative, and they remind me of the positive.  They can change the course of the conversation by remaining positive and not participating in the complaining or gossip.  As I learn to treat my negativity, I’m really grateful for these individuals.

3. It’s always best to cut off negativity before it starts
I’m trying to learn to always evaluate myself first when something doesn’t meet expectations. I’ve found that I can really put things into perspective by starting with the question, “What role did my actions (or lack of actions) play in this situation?” I’m learning that most often than not, the blame rests on me. When I realize the role that my actions plays, my focus turns to reconciling instead of complaining. 

I’ve got a long ways to go, but God is at work. I still fail at this each day, but I’m thankful for how He is changing me and making me new.

This week has been a busy week for me, both professionally and personally.

Professionally, this past Sunday was the launch of our new ministry year.  1300 kids and 700 volunteers made for a really exciting day!  I was excited about the number of new volunteers that we have in the Preteen Ministry. 

Personally, this Thursday is our little girls’ 1st birthday.  It doesn’t seem like Maggie should be a year old already, but we’re excited about celebrating that with family.  It’s been so much fun watching her grow and develop over this first year. 

As I think about the way that Maggie has developed over this first year of her life, I can’t help but notice the similarities between her development and the development of new volunteers in their first year of service.  For example…

1. Most of what our daughter learned was learned in the last 4 or 5 months.
Talking, crawling, walking (not there yet), following instructions, eating solid foods…all of these things were learned in the final months of her first year.  This is a good reminder to stay confident in new volunteers.  While they may not completely get it on the first week, they will grow and develop.  Give them time and keep encouraging.

2. Most of what our daughter learned was what we chose to teach her
My wife was intentional about teaching Maggie some sign language.  She consistently taught the signs over and over until our daughter understood and used them on her own.  New volunteers are going to learn what we chose to teach them.  What are we choosing to teach our volunteers? Even if the answer is “I don’t know”, we’re still teaching something and chances are it’s not good!

3. Some of what our daughter learned was through others’ example
Being around other kids has helped Maggie to learn new things.  This is especially true when she is around older kids. I love for Maggie to be around kids who can walk and talk because this models the behaviors that she is trying to develop and master.  It’s important that we give new volunteers the opportunity to rub shoulders with experienced volunteers.  Trust in your experienced volunteers to model the vision and strategy for the new volunteers.  Pretty soon the new volunteer is an experienced volunteer and ready to model for someone else.

4. Our daughter was motivated to learn new things because we rewarded her and celebrated her accomplishments
When Maggie says a new word or masters a new skill, we can’t help but love on her and praise her.  She gets the biggest smile on her face because she knows that she’s done something well.  New volunteers need the same type of encouragement.  As they develop and grow, they’re not sure if they’re doing everything correctly and they are searching for approval.  Spend time each week celebrating and rewarding new volunteers.  If the time comes when you need to correct a volunteer, it’s much easier to do so when you’ve also poured encouragement into their life.

5. Our daughter is not perfect and she has a lot of boo-boos
Part of growing up is making mistakes.  Maggie is learning to stand and walk, and it seems like she falls 100 times a day.  New volunteers will make mistakes.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely make my fair share of mistakes. There will be scenarios that you just can’t train them for.  It is the role of the leader to keep encouraging and helping them to learn through mistakes.

How do you nurture your new volunteers?

Maggie_and_me

My wife, daughter, and I were enjoying lunch today, and then a father-daughter duo came in and sat at the booth next to us. For those who know my nosey tendencies, it comes as no surprise that I was listening in on their conversation.  But I was really blessed as I listened to the father talk to his preteen daughter.

The father talked with the daughter about what she would like to order, and then allowed her to pick the appetizer that they would share.  As they waited for their food, he launched into a conversation about how proud he was of her and how he couldn’t wait to show her mother all the school supplies they picked out.  He pointed to my 11 month old daughter and told his daughter that he remembered when she was that small.  They talked about how much she had changed.  They laughed and talked the whole time.  At one point, I looked over and the father had reached across the table and was holding the hand of his daughter.  She wasn’t pulling away or embarassed, which told me that this was not the first time they had shared a moment like this.  I was impressed and inspired by how this dad had captured the heart of his preteen daughter.

The event just reminded me of the importance for fathers of preteen girls to date their daughters.  By dating your daughter, it builds confidence in who they are maturing to be.  It also helps to set a standard for how they should expect to be treated by men. But most importanly, it opens a line of communication that will allow you to speak into their lives for years to come. 

Dads, if you’re not already doing so, DATE YOUR DAUGHTER!

Take them for breakfast before school
Pick them up from school unexpectedly and go for ice cream
Schedule a Friday night and dress up for dinner and a movie
Keep a regular time each week that is just time for her
Buy her flowers for the date
Always keep the conversation centered on her and your approval of who she is

Father_and_daughter