Sample Nonfiction (2)

*All names have been changed or omitted for personal use as a portfolio sample

 

Let me tell you about my favorite time of year. While the rest of the world has their sights set on the Super Bowl, I can almost smell the blades of fresh cut grass in preparation for major league baseball spring training. There's something about that sport that has always made me feel a little bit different about life in general. One time, I was talking to Cobb about leadership stuff, when he used one of the simplest metaphors that I've ever heard. He likened leadership to the “sweet spot” in baseball. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the sweet spot is the part on the bat that every player longs to find. When the pitcher throws the ball and the batter connects the sweet spot of the bat to the ball, the feeling is incredible. Not only that, everyone in the stadium can feel the connection as well. That is what effective leadership feels like.

Unfortunately, we can’t always find the sweet spot. Sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like I am out of my gift zone; you know, like I'm swinging in the air but there's nothing to hit. When I talk to my mentor, and those who are closest to me, they help me reconnect with the sweet spot regarding my leadership ability. It's that place where you connect with people in a way that you know is really making a difference. You are in the zone. As leaders, it is our responsibility and obligation to those we lead to find that sweet spot. And just like a batter must do, we have to keep taking more cuts in practice until we can do it over and over again the right way.

I was talking to one of my former students the other day and we got on to the subject of leadership. He is now working as a manager of a Starbucks and is married with a couple of kids. When he was in ministry with me he was definitely one of the All-Stars. Now, he is reading books on leadership and being noticed by the people over him at his job, wondering how he knows so many leadership gurus and principles. What’s funny about it is that he cannot believe that they are so astonished. He told me he had to thank me for introducing him to the principles of leadership. He said that he owes all of his leadership training and skills to the ministry team we led and books, audios, and studies that we had. It is amazing how many people are not in tune with leadership concepts, including those in prominent leadership positions! Jon is one of the few that are ahead of the game and will continue to accelerate in anything that he decides to do. So what was his big secret? He took leadership seriously. He read more, listened more and just plain tried!

Being the CEO in your ministry means that you are moving on up. Your responsibilities are greater, but so are the rewards. This phase of your ministry career is all about staying ahead of the game. If you start now, you will be able to get yourself to a place where others seek out your leadership. That is what God has called you to do…lead.

 

Setting the Bar

 

I was reading a blog by my good friend and confidant and was very interested in his view of New Year’s resolutions. He said that they are never as easy as we would view them or hope for them to be. You know; losing weight, quitting smoking, etc. I immediately thought to myself that it really was that easy. I was in disagreement with him until I realized the reason I felt that way was because I have accountability. The reason I feel that I reach more of my goals than many of my friends is simply because I have them. I make goals for myself so frequently that the odd New Year’s resolution is just one of many goals I’ve set for myself and often quite achievable.

This perspective is funny because I actually miss more of my goals than I fulfill. For a long time, this bothered me. I would think, “Why even have goals if I’m just going to miss them?” Then I talked to a mentor. He asked me how many of my goals I actually hit during a year. It was an astonishingly horrible 40% or so. I couldn’t believe that I was so bad at hitting my goals. But my mentor assured me that the more goals I set, and the harder I make them, the more I will grow as an individual. Another thing I have going for me is that I have people in my life who keep me accountable for my goals. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t want to talk to these people because I know I’ll have to tell them that I missed a goal. But then I realize that the goals that I do hit are largely because of my responsibility to both myself and to those who pour time and energy into me.

 

Providing opportunity

 

We used to have a group of skater boys come to our high school group that we knew, through conversations with some of their friends, were not Christian. They were a pretty cool group of kids and all very likable. They were pretty popular or at least well known by the other kids at school. They would come to our midweek program and participate like the rest of the students, these boys being very quiet for the most part.

It came about that they would help me and Cobb get the high school room ready for the night because they often arrived a little early. Cobb was the master at this concept, which was to get kids involved in any way possible in hopes of having some influence over them.  One of these boys ultimately came into a relationship with JC and continued to help out, long after the others drifted away.

Now, in our junior high group, we had a skate night coming up at a local skate park and we were renting out the place, along with the children’s ministry at our church, so we could have it all to ourselves. It was going to be off the hook. The park was pretty sweet – and always crowded, so to have it to ourselves was incredible! The only thing that was missing was someone to give a talk on what it means to be a Christian. As it may be for your church as well, all of our events had some kind of time set aside specifically to get our audience in front of the Gospel.  I was going to give the message, but thought that I could maybe get something even better.

So, I asked this kid, a new Christian who loved to skate and was on the front end of his relationship with Christ to come and be a part of our night at the park. I told him that he would be able to skate for free, hang out with the kids and then give a small testimony at some point during the evening. Well, he was all for the skating part, but was reluctant to do the latter task. I told him that it was cool, just to come and we would play it by ear; he agreed.

 

The night came and there were tons of kids all over the place. This high school kid was skating with the groups all night and they were all in awe of his amazing skating talents—as was I. What it came down to is that he chose not to give a testimony that night because he still did not feel comfortable, and I was cool with that. But we continued to do the chair ministry at youth group  and when he graduated he became one of my junior high leaders, and a really good one at that. He knew what it meant to spend quality time with the boys that were entrusted to him.

I knew that if we could influence this kid and give him opportunities to grow in his relationship with God and the youth group, he would have the potential to do the things in ministry that he eventually did. How are you creating opportunities for others to grow in relationship with God and grooming them to do cool stuff for His kingdom? If you are intentional about it, the Lord will open up doors; you just have to be ready for them.