struettcathy_sm“The one thing I take more joy in than anything else in the world is seeing young people develop.” – S. Truett Cathy

Chick-Fil-A fans and the Cathy family are taking note of the legacy left behind by the founder of America’s top chicken restaurant chain. Fifty years after he created the recipe for his famous sandwich, Georgia businessman Samuel Truett Cathy was announced to have died “peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.”

It’s unfortunate that some people will only get to know a person better after they pass away than from the impressions they draw from headlines. I encountered this myself when singer/writer Rich Mullins died, as he went from being in mind “that guy who wrote ‘Awesome God,’ I think” to a “candid-theologian-disguised-as-a-ragamuffin-who-I-wish-I-knew-better.”

struettcathyFor that reason, I’d like to offer just a small portion of S Truett Cathy’s thoughts from various sources, including interviews and his autobiography. There may be several transferable principles here for how you do ministry and so much more, but also consider the legacy he’s left behind:

  • “The Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich itself was born in the wake of an unexpected opportunity. When one of my first two restaurants burned to the ground, I found myself with time on my hands and the availability to develop a new recipe…”
  • “If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; If you wish to enrich years, plant trees; If you wish to enrich Eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.”
  • “Put two Cows on a billboard with a bucket of paint and a brush, and they’ll create some unexpected opportunities… They remind people in their unique style to ‘Eat Mor Chikin!’ The Cows still haven’t learned to spell, and their grammar leaves a lot to be desired, but the opportunities are real. Five years after they painted their first billboard, Chick-fil-A had doubled our sales volume, achieving annual sales of more than $1 billion.”
  • truett cathy“We have an impact on our children by what we say, but particularly by what we do. They forget many of the things we say, but they observe everything we do. We can’t expect to keep beer in the refrigerator and expect our fifteen-year-old not to drink beer.”
  • “My business grew on my understanding that customers are always looking for somebody who is dependable and polite and will take care of them.”
  • “It’s better to build boys than mend men.”
  • “After we make the necessary investment – buying the real estate and building the restaurant – we turn over the responsibility of running a $2 million-plus business (for a free-standing location) to these independent franchisees – many who have not yet turned thirty years old. We support them with training, technology, and anything else they need. But the bottom line depends on the Operator’s honesty, integrity, commitment and loyalty to customers and to us. We trust our Operators to make good decisions – and they do. I don’t know of another restaurant company that places so much responsibility in the hands of its franchisees.”
  • “Like wealth, poverty also has the power to build us up and make us appreciate what we have, or it can break our spirits.”
  • “The ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ Cows now have become more than characters in an advertisement. They’re real. Wherever I go I carry a bunch of plush Cow toys. They always make people happy, whether they’re children or adults – even workers in boots and soiled shirts. Everybody loves them. When I give one away I always ask the person to tell me what the Cows say, and hold onto it until they say, ‘Eat Mor Chikin!’”
  • A reporter once asked me how I would like to be remembered. I answered, ‘I think I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”
  • “When we share our time with children, the little things often become lifetime memories for them.”

I have to say, those last two really stand out to me most.

What stands out to you?

For that matter, how out-standing are you? What do you hope to give others based on how you serve and live in this world?

I heard comedian Steve Harvey today talk about his own hope to leave a legacy. In his words, “I’ve scooped a lot of stuff off the ground so you don’t have to slide in it. I tell that to my kids all the time. ‘I just scooped enough of this crap off the ground to keep you from sliding in it.”

Pass-baton-620x480If you were to pass on today, what would your legacy be?

How does that compare to what do you hope your legacy be, that it might be said of you when you pass on into eternity and grasped by others around you?

 

Criticism happens.

Adults nod our head at that reality, knowing that it’s just a part of life. We’re “mature” like that.

Students, on the other hand, are still wrestling with realizing this.

We can argue that they haven’t grown up yet like we have, but maybe it’s something else… maybe the reason they struggle with it is because they haven’t yet let go of the idea (like adults have) that such antagonism shouldn’t be a part of life in the first place. They’re still doing a double-take and a triple-take full of shock and awe on something we’ve closed our eyes to.

hqdefaultIt’s one of the reasons why I appreciate actor Wil Wheaton’s thoughtful answer to a young girl who spontaneously asked him a question at a Comic Con event. She wondered if he could give her advice how to respond to her peers who call her a nerd.

Take a look at Wheaton’s response, noting the way he serves her through the wording and pace he uses to speak to her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04WJEEb33CY

Any takeaways? For example:

  • Notice how Wil doesn’t toss in a lot of “um’s” into his response. He was speaking from a place of conviction. How did he get there? Is this how conversations happen between you and students?
  • The audience erupted with affirmation a few times, and other times didn’t. Wheaton didn’t seemed phased (no pun intended) by whether they did or didn’t clap… he obviously wasn’t trying to get their approval but address the girl. Again, is this how you handle what students present your way or are you going for a “high five” reply that makes you look favorable/slick/hip/whatever?

What can we learn from this in the way that we serve students through everyday conversations?



jimmyfallonThis is a big week for Jimmy Fallon – between taking on the Tonight Show and all the press that’s involved with it.

Critics will be waiting to pounce on him, eager to summarize if he “nails it” or “fails it.”

There will be a lot of leadership lessons for you as you watch it all unfold. As you think about it, share any learning curves you’ve already observed about it (or circle back here throughout the week as you pick up on some more). For example, some people have already made up their mind that “no one will ever compare to Leno.” Have you ever faced that in life, your career or in a ministry as you took over from your successor?

Meanwhile, enjoy this fun riffing that Jimmy and his crew offer on their different church experiences growing up. This dates back to 2011 when Kirk Franklin was to be a guest and Jimmy’s house band The Roots started to play some “Gospel music” with a nod to their understanding of church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67kKGFyXB9M

YouTube Life Skills

 —  October 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

Yesterday I received an email from YouTube that intrigued me.  The subject line read:

Learn 12 New Life Skills On YouTube

Perhaps you got it too? Opening it I found this:

Screen shot 2013-10-20 at 12.27.15 PM

Notice that YouTube “life skills” include slight of hand, solving a rubix cube, rolling a coin across your knuckles, and of course, beat boxing.

I’m not sure what I expected out of YouTube for their version of “life skills.”  While fun “skills” to learn, they are hardly what will truly help anyone in their everyday life. This got me thinking. If I were to make 4 videos teaching something to help a 12-25 year old about navigating life what would they be?

1.  Fail Well:

We mess up. There are even times we totally make the wrong choice. The issue is less about what goes wrong, and more about what we will do to make it right. Will we learn to repent when needed? Will we learn how to improve for the “next time,” we are in a situation? Will we own our mistakes and not get stuck there?

2.  Conflict Is Good/Fighting Is Bad

Learning to confront a difficult situation or disagree with someone respectfully is something many adults don’t know how to do well. In adolescence lives can be all about the “drama.”  Teaching students how to stand up for what they believe in and express opinions for the better good is important.

3. Integrity Above All

Integrity is not merely about learning honesty or even truth.  It’s about putting truth at the forefront of everything- not our interpretation or opinion of- but following through on what is right honestly- no matter what. This needs to be taught and learned by many.

 4. Compassion Moves Us To Action

Our relationship with Christ doesn’t stop with “Jesus Loves Me.”  It is about walking out a journey with Him where He goes, and loving our neighbor as ourselves in the process.  What will we do when we see someone hurting? Will we notice the hurting in the first place?

I would love to solve a Rubix cube without pulling all the stickers off, and I do have a secret dream to be a quality beat boxer, but I hardly call it a “life skill.”

What life skills do you need to teach your students?



seinfeldCan Jerry Seinfeld’s approach to joke writing teach us anything about how we should prepare for sermons and youth talks?

You be the judge.

Just a question, though…

how much time do you spend thinking about your exact words (and flow of words) before you teach?

Any takeaways?

TEACH THE WORD
I have found that of all of the things that I have poured into my ministry that have had by far the biggest impact on individual lives and on groups as a whole is good, solid biblical teaching of God’s word. That means different things to different people. What I mean is regular (weekly), verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter teaching. Such teaching allows God’s word to teach God’s word, not choosing a topic to teach and then searching for various verses to back up the message you want to get across.

Now there is nothing wrong with topical teaching. I actually believe that a short stretch of a certain topic once in a while that pertains to your students is very healthy. But a regular diet of topical teaching is like feeding your students ice cream week after week. They need the meat of the word. And that means expository teaching.

Many people will disagree with this and I believe they mainly do because they either have not seen this type of teaching over a long period of time impact lives or they are ignorant or even lazy. Expository teaching is, here it is, hard work. It takes much more time and effort to dig for what a passage really means, what it meant for the people that it was written to, and what it means for its hearers now.

You will do your students an injustice now and over the long haul if you fudge in this area. We live in a world of extreme biblical ignorance and I believe that is mainly the church’s fault—starting in the youth ministry. If you focus your attention on developing your ability to teach the word in a way that truly feeds students solid meat, the impact of your effort will be seen in the lives of your students now and in their lives down the road as they continue to crave the meat of the word.

LAST WORDS
Youth ministry is a wonderful, unique, challenging, often misunderstood and rewarding career. It’s no longer as much a stepping stone to being a REAL pastor as it is a very specialized ministry that requires a disciplined work-ethic along with the ability to learn how to focus on what one has been specifically called to do. This takes years of patience, endurance, faith and heart to get it right. In my experience, more than 30.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.



DEVELOP YOUR AND OTHERS LEADERSHIP SKILLS
“Leadership is influence – The ability to obtain followers – The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” *ch1 Your students don’t need your friendship as much as they need you to lead them. They also need you to help them develop their leadership skills. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” *ch 10

Leadership seems to be more and more of a lost art in youth ministry. It is so easy to get lost or buried in the week in and week out responsibilities of lesson and meeting prep and all of the other details that can engulf you in youth ministry that you neglect to build into yourself, your leaders and you students what they need most: the joy of knowing how God has called them to lead in whatever situation in life that they find themselves.

Let’s face it, if leadership is influence, then everyone in your ministry is and will be a leader. You have the privilege of helping people learn to lead where they are and to learn skills that will carry into their marriages, families, businesses and ministries.

You do this by helping them to see where they are gifted and allowing them to try on different ways of using their gifts. If all of your time is spent developing your program and trying to be “successful” (whatever that looks like for you), then you will surely end up neglecting the development of leaders.

This means more than just helping your students and volunteers figure out how to lead. It means first and foremost helping them understand what it means to be a servant leader. They need to know what the heart of a leaders looks like. They need to see that a true leader ultimately serves those he or she leads out of love for them and a desire to see them succeed. Focus on helping them learn to have the heart of a leader.

Now this is all fine, but if you are not constantly developing your own leadership skills, you will constantly bump into your own shortcomings in this area. I suggest you do a few things to develop your own leadership skills:

  1. Read books on leadership
  2. Ask others how they perceive you as a leader. Ask for an honest critique.
  3. Put yourself in situations that stretch your present leadership skills.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.

ALWAYS BE TEACHABLE AND A CONTINUAL LEARNER
To be teachable not only means that you can be taught how to do ministry but it also, and more importantly, means that you are able to learn from your mistakes and from others’ advice. To not be teachable is to be arrogant and ultimately a sub-par youth worker.

How can you know if you are a teachable person? A teachable person welcomes input into their life and ministry (and then implements it), especially input that is tough to hear, but necessary. A teachable person longs for input that will in any way make them a better person and help them to have a healthy ministry. If you find that you are hyper-sensitive to input that goes against your ideas, or that you are less than positive about getting others’ input, you are not a teachable person.

As I stated above, making assumptions that you know how to “do” ministry can be your Achilles heel. The reality is that the moment you stop learning, you die. Having the mindset of a continual learner will help you to stay fresh and keep the people you work with fresh and excited about ministry and their faith. Knowing your church and community culture is vital. There are other things though that you need to always be learning about.

First and foremost it is important to be a continual learner in your faith. You are young. Don’t assume that what you believe in now is all that God has for you. You may find that as you pursue learning some of the theological beliefs that you held near and dear as you grew up or learned in bible college aren’t necessarily true or as concrete as you thought. Is Reformed Theology 100% true? What is your End Times beliefs? Young or old earth? NIV or ESV? These might seem unnecessary for youth ministry, but believe me, you will come across these and more as you forge ahead and want to know what YOU believe, not what others have told you to believe, especially if you are a teachable person.

Next, is to be a continual learner as far as how to communicate to young people. As you learn the style of communication and teaching that you feel most comfortable with, it is important that you not think that it is the final word. You will find that as you mature as a person and as a minister, how you communicate will also mature. The adage that I have always lived by when it comes to communicating and teaching is, “You are never as bad as you think and you are never as good as you think.”

Lastly, always be learning about how to best reach the students that God has called you to reach and minister to. Just because a camp, retreat, style of worship, room set-up, time of meeting or any program is working great, don’t assume that it will be that way in the future. Never adopt the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” mindset in ministry. Look around you. The most successful endeavors in society, especially with technology, happen because people are watching and learning how to best stay effective.

Not that you need to adopt the world’s way of doing things per se. But to assume that something will always work just because it has been working is ludacris. The needs of your youth group will change. They’d BETTER change! If you are pouring into your ministry as you should be, change will happen, in you and in others. Needs will change. Learn to discern when these changes are taking place and always be learning what you need to do to facilitate these changes.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.