Taking Time Off

 —  July 13, 2010 — 3 Comments

I’m taking today off.

We’re just coming off a massive multi-week effort to pull of HSM’s Summer Camp completely on our own for the first time and honestly, I’m totally spent. Here’s the problem: there are a million forces pulling me back into work. The rest I need is in direct opposition to everyone else’s needs. Emails are still flying in, phone calls and texts are jamming my phone, I’ve got a pile of mail waiting for me and my office looks like it was hit by a Class 5 tornado. But I’m going to take a 2nd day off, and get back to work full-force tomorrow.

  • Why? If I don’t, I’ll burn out.
  • If I don’t, I’ll die early (and the way I eat, I’ll die early enough).
  • If I don’t, I’ll save the world but lose my kids and my marriage. Not worth it.
  • So if you need me today … well, you won’t be able to find me. I’m hiding from you.

But, you ask, what if it was your day off and Rick Warren himself called a meeting and specifically asked you to be there? What would you do then? It isn’t an easy answer … but I’ll give it to you since it actually just happened. I would be bummed at myself for sneaking a glance at email from home on my day off, then I would make sure that someone could fully cover for me at the meeting. How do I know I would respond this way? I just did!

I’m taking the day off so I’ll have many more great days of ministry ahead.


It wasn’t that long ago a small group leader in our ministry called me to talk about a big mistake he had made. It involved a group of guys, Buffalo wings, and a little restaurant called … Hooters. The next few hours after that phone call were critical–we were fortunate that it was an experienced volunteer who followed these three steps to re-establish trust with the parents of the kids involved. Here’s what we did:

Own it without excuses
There is nothing like just owning a mistake that you made; honesty and openness are essential for rebuilding trust. The last thing you would want to do is to minimize what happened and pretend it isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal, and it needs an owner. You committed the foul, so take your lumps.

Apologize for what you’ve done and start over
So you’ve been honest about what happened; now it is time to apologize for it and admit you were wrong. This isn’t going to be easy, but it is a sign of humility, repentance, and your humanity. I always tell my leaders, don’t try to appear perfect because it doesn’t set a realistic example for your students to follow.

Earn the trust back one good decision at a time
It might take some time, but work hard not to repeat the same bad decision and play it safe. You are a leader and it is time to get back to leading again. A great way to communicate your good-faith effort is to invite a co-leader into your group or on events with you. Another great trust-building exercise is to give detailed plans of your intentions at least a week in advance. This will give parents an opportunity to address concerns and peace of mind that your plans are sound.

Keep in mind: The longer you’ve served and the more deposits you’ve made into the longevity bank, the more you will be trusted despite a few setbacks.


Here are my two favorite pictures from Easter at Angel Stadium. 1) Pastor Rick from the pitcher’s mound, and 2) one of our church elders wearing an amazing shirt. Great day!


My Out of Office Reply

 —  March 16, 2010 — 2 Comments

Part of the reason I came back to about 1,000 items in my email inbox post-Kenya was because I Twittered about my out of office reply – people wrote me just to see it – ha! If you’re waiting for an answer about something – it’s gonna take me a week to get back up to speed. Sorry! And if you missed the email while I was gone – enjoy:

(a)_____________ is currently away from his desk because he is (b)_______________ in (c)_____________. He will be gone from (d)________________ to (e)_________________ and your email will be (f)_______________________ when he (g)___________. If you need help right away, please contact (h)___________________ at (i)_________________. Thanks and (j)_______________.

Mar 4-18
(a) JG
(b) hanging with 27 amazing students
(c) Kitale, Kenya
(d) March 4
(e) March 18
(f) Replied to immediately
(g) regains consciousness from the travel coma he will be recovering from.
(h) The High School Ministry (HSM) team
(i) (949) 609-8000
(j) always be on the lookout for mosquitoes that carry Yellow Fever. You have been warned.

Feb 22-Mar 1
(a) Joshua Griffin
(b) Hanging out with youth workers at #symc2010
(c) Chicago, IL
(d) February 22
(e) March 1
(f) probably skimmed over
(g) is home for 2 days between trips.
(h) The High School Ministry (HSM) team
(i) (949) 609-8000
(j) have a great day. Seriously, please do.

Feb 9-12
(a) Josh Griffin
(b) Hanging out with Rick Warren backstage at #rad10
(c) Lake Forest, CA
(d) February 9
(e) February 12
(f) completely ignored
(g) (waves hand) “it can wait until March 18th” (you repeat) “it can wait a few weeks”
(h) The High School Ministry (HSM) team
(i) (949) 609-8000
(j) Have a great day.


“David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30.6

I have a few friends and fellow ministers that swear TWITTER is a complete waste of their time and monthly text message budget. I’ve tried to argue otherwise with little to no success. Some have created a twitter account just to shut me up but still not a tweet from them. Some have yet to maximize its full networking power and have limited their occasional tweets to a very select group of friends and colleagues. Still some have focused on the negatives and have resolved to never explore the positive side of twitter.

I don’t know what your opinion of twitter is but if you have yet to find yourself consumed with the tweets of world leaders, global missionaries, engaging authors, revolutionary leaders, and inspiring messengers of the Good News like I have; I hope this will change your mind. I appreciate the technology of twitter because of the opportunities and platform it offers me to receive and share words of wisdom, encouragement, and humor.

Yesterday, as I sat in Wendy’s enjoying my lunch; killing time while my car was getting an oil change at the adjacent mechanic shop, I received one of these encouraging tweets. This is what the tweet said:

@rickwarren: To last in ministry learn what David did: “He ENCOURAGED HIMSELF in the Lord” (1 Sam 30.6) Don’t expect others to do it for you.

Just as soon as I read this tweet from Dr. Rick Warren, founding pastor of Sabbleback Church, leader of the Purpose Driven Network of churches, and best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, I had to know the context of the verse he was referring to.

In this passage King David and his men of approximately 600 had just returned home from a battle that apparently no one really wanted them around for. Upon arriving at their town of Zilag they found that an opposing army had raided it and burned it to the ground. This raiding party had also carried off their women, children, and everyone else. Already returning home with their spirits deflated and now devastated from this tragic situation the Bible says these men “wept until they could weep no more.”

Their weeping soon turned to rage toward their leader, King David, whom they wanted to hold responsible for their loss. These men began contemplating stoning him. It was David’s response to this life-threatening plot that brought @rickwarren to send his tweet. The Bible says that David, “found strength in the Lord his God.”

When facing adversity or opposition we can learn from David how God would want us to respond. Notice I said ‘when’ not ‘if’ because we can be sure that with leadership comes adversity. In those moments it would be easy to raise the white flag but in leadership we have to realize that we are working to please God and not those we are called to lead. We can’t give up and we can’t give in; we must, like David, ask God to give us strength to keep moving forward. Because David chose to seek God for strength to move forward he was able recover all that was taken from him and his men with interest.

So when you find yourself facing what you feel is the death of God’s plan for your life, your ministry, and your future don’t give up! Seek God and you too will find “strength in the Lord” your God!

What does all this have to do with twitter? Well, nothing really, accept for the fact that without having an active twitter account I would have never received this encouraging word that I feel God had for me and for you.

So, DON’T GIVE UP and sign-up for twitter!

Shon Bradford is a Student Ministry Pastor and blogs right here.

Not sure how I missed this earlier … but Pastor Rick’s Purpose Driven Life was the inspiration for the song “Temporary Home” on Carrie Underwood’s latest album. Cool! Here’s a clip from USA Today on the topic:

She’s even better friends with Mike Fisher, a center for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. They’ve been dating about a year. But just because Play On features a song in which a woman tells her mother “Giving me away is not goodbye” doesn’t mean that Underwood has immediate plans to change her last name. She points out that she wrote the song with Idol’s Kara DioGuardi, who wed in July.

“In my case, many years down the road, when I get married” — Underwood chuckles — “if I get married, to whomever it might be, it’ll be really tough on my mother,” she says.

Fisher did contribute to Play On, suggesting the title for one of its songs. The idea came from a devotional study of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life that the couple did together.

“In the book, he talks about this being our temporary home, that we need to do what we can here but remember that this is literally a stop,” Underwood says. “We’re headed someplace else.”

So Fisher suggested Underwood write a song called Temporary Home. Her initial reaction? “I was like: ‘Stick to hockey. I’ll stick to songwriting.’ ”

But the idea grew on Underwood. She wrote a ballad, with verses depicting a boy in a foster home, a single mother in a halfway house and a man in a hospital bed. She worked with Last Name co-writer Luke Laird and Zac Maloy, another Oklahoman.


Saddleback Church is streaming their Christmas services online this holiday – click here to watch. Pastor Rick Warren is speaking during the daytime services and Doug Fields will be teaching the two evening services:

Catch it today (Christmas Eve) at 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM, 9PM, 11PM (Pacific Time)

Also, my friend Tony and LifeChurch.tv are hosting a Christmas Eve experience as well at Church Online that would be a great one to check out, too. Merry (online) Christmas!


This past weekend I shared breakfast with my YS roommate. Bruegger’s Bagels and chocolate milk, case you were wondering.

Our discussion centered around the question, how do you know when God is moving you? It a good question and often asked when we feel the push to move on to something else. As we talked, I thought about my own experiences and knowing when God was moving me from one spot to the next. Here’s what I learned:

1. Prayer. Without a doubt, prayer is the most important part of the process. Seeking God diligently is a must. Each time we thought a move was coming, my wife and I bathed the possibilities in prayer. We pray together, we pray separately, we pray for specifics, and we pray for the unknown. We’re not afraid to ask God to answer and provide the details. Like Gideon, we put out the fleece and ask God to send the dew. And don’t forget, prayer is a two way street. Spend as much time listening for God as you do listing your requests and demands. God still speaks, we just have to learn to listen.

2. Godly Wisdom. Wise counsel is priceless. Surround yourself with trusted, Godly men and women, who can give you unbiased and confidential advice and support. These need to be people who love you and can be strong enough to say no. Tell them what they need to know. Ask them to pray specific for you for a designated time frame, then set up a time when you can meet and hear what they think God is saying. And listen! The counsel they bring might not be what you want to hear.

3. Watch and Know. God speaks through what happens around us. Events and circumstances help to push us the direction God wants us to go. I am a firm believer that God opens and closes doors as He deems necessary. Watch what’s happening around. Too often, irony is the hand of God turning a door knob. And know your history. How has God moved you in the past? How has He moved in others lives? How did He move people in the New Testament? How did He move people in the Old Testament? Our God does not change. The same God who moved Abram to an unknown country is the God who might be moving you into the unknown. Knowing how He works will help you recognize when He is moving in your life.

I can’t say that these three things were my own brain child. They were shared with my wife and I many years again when we were considering our first full time call to serve a ministry. We practiced each of these three points then, and God was faithful in revealing what we needed to know and where we needed to be. Since then, we have applied each point for every move we’ve made and we have been blessed.

The only other suggestion I would add is idea of total surrender. Two captains cannot steer the ship. Each one will have his own agenda and desired destination. With both at the helm, confusion reigns. The ship needs one captain and one first officer. The captain commands the ship. He sets the direction and navigates the terrain. The first officer’s place is to obey the captain, follow his lead, and stay on course even when the captain steps of the bridge.

Not too long ago, I staged a mutiny. My wife and I knew we were done serving a ministry and that it was time to move on. What we didn’t know was the where. For us, the when was as soon as possible. So we made some phone calls, did the job search, and let some people know we we’re looking. But really, our minds were made up. We were going back to Philadelphia. My office was packed into boxes, and in my mind, I was already planning for a new youth ministry. We did everything we could to make this happen.

But despite all our efforts, nothing was working out. We pushed and pushed and pushed. But the doors closed every single time.
After four months of trying to force the square peg into the round hole, the final door was slammed in our faces. We were not moving back to Philly. This was a crushing realization for me. Because of the nature of the work I was doing, I had to resolve to do what I was called to do. I asked for a peace about everything and the ability to surrender the situation and wait on God.
Three months later, we heard the youth pastor who was serving the church we were attending had left. We went away for a weekend as a family right after hearing about the opening. My wife and I agreed to pray about the news and w would talk about afterward. When we returned home, I made a call. Three weeks later, I had a new call. God moved me when He was ready to move me. He was just waiting for me to surrender to Him. If you are at that point. The point where you ask yourself, Is God moving me right now? Take the time to pray, seek counsel, watch for the signs, and surrender to what God is doing. He’s got it all taken care of.

Just have to let him Captain the ship, then enjoy the cruise.

Jay Higham is the youth pastor at Crossroads Youth Ministry at St. Paul’s.