Friday, September 28, 2018

Reflections Upon my Sixty-second Birthday

         In June of this year I turned sixty-two years of age. My father retired from his career with a railroad at age sixty-two. My wife retired over four years ago. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in the car and I said, “Okay, baby, here’s the deal. I just turned sixty-two, but I have absolutely no interest in retirement. I aim to go as hard and as fast as I can until seventy, then we can think about it. I have way too much juice, lots of vision, and plenty yet to accomplish.” She has no complaints as she certainly doesn’t want me hanging around the house being hyper with nothing to do. If I retired, I would just volunteer doing the same things I do now.
          Below are some simple reflections on how things look at sixty-two.

Earlier this year I went with my father to Washington DC on a Veterans Honor Flight. Dad is a Korean War veteran and the whole day, 4:00 am to 9:30 pm, was tremendous. Both my parents have had knee replacements, but still live in the home they have owned for over sixty years. My son and daughter-in-law are wonderful, loving, and wise parents.
Our granddaughters are lovely girls, seven years of age and four. Both are involved in dance, the younger one with a much more competitive mindset. One is very compliantly natured, the other quite strong willed.

Forty-three years of marriage

My wife, Sharon, and I are more committed to each other than ever. That’s surely how we have made it this far. I am a much better husband than I was twenty years ago. I am more understanding and accommodating. We have a better handle on our finances than ever. We now contribute more to various ministries and charities than we ever could have imagined.

Physical changes

It’s harder to sleep soundly in recent years. I have more joint pain than ten years ago. I can still play racquetball competitively. I carry some pounds that I would like to lose, but am not really obsessed with my waistline. 

When I shave, I see my maternal grandfather looking back at me in the mirror.

Church and volunteerism –

No Greater Love Ministries and the NGL Network continue to be an important part of my life as a man, a leader, and as a life-long learner.
My involvement is now mostly through facilitation of the Camp Leaders during the Mardi Gras outreach and in as many NGL board meetings as fit with my busy schedule.
The longer I serve Christ Jesus in sporting culture, the harder it is to fit in with church culture.

Global travel –
I have now traveled to or through twenty-nine nations in the last eighteen years. In the years that remain, I intend to be available to serve anyone, anywhere I am called that fits my life's purposes, as the Lord reveals them.

Ministry in sport –

This facet of my life is constantly changing. I still lead FCA Camps, but in a less direct manner than ten years ago.
I find great joy and fulfillment in serving in sports chaplaincy, locally, nationally, and globally. I serve, lead, write, and network in these initiatives.
I lead ministry with coaches in professional, college, high school, junior high, and club sport, in a variety of sports. Some of this is done by direct relational contact, others are via conference calls, still others via text messages, many more by writing books, and still others by visiting annual coaching conventions.

Summary –
Life at sixty-two is rich, fulfilling, and joyous. I love my family, my friends, my colleagues, and those I am privileged to serve. Let’s crack on for a few more decades.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Engage, Equip, Empower

Earlier this year, Fellowship of Christian Athletes rolled out some new language regarding our strategies for ministry. Whereas we had before talked about ministry with nouns – Coaches, Camps, Campus, and Community, we have now begun to talk about it in verbs – Engage, Equip, and Empower. Being an active person, I like verbs far better than nouns and was excited to see what would result from this shift. Those details are being worked out at every level of the ministry, from the board room in Kansas City to the most remote posts of our service, even Carbondale, Illinois (USA).

As the weeks and months progressed, several discussions with colleagues had me thinking about the dynamics of how this works in my network of coaches and sports chaplains. As we talked I could envision a funnel.

At the top end of the funnel it is quite broad, but at the bottom end it is very narrow. I drew the illustration on a piece of paper and continued to think about it. I analyzed my approach to ministry and it is quite broad as I seek to engage people from a very wide radius. As many of these are first meetings we have little depth of relationship. This is what it is to Engage and we do it broadly.

In the middle of the process, the funnel’s center section, it is narrower than the top, but still broader than at the bottom end. The relationships I have with coaches who seem hungry for more, I Equip. I give them a book, recommend a website, a blog, a podcast, an app, invite the coach to an event, or some other way to facilitate their growth. The number we Equip is properly smaller than those we engage. We Equip strategically.

At the bottom end, the outlet of the funnel, it is quite narrow. The number of coaches we Empower is vastly smaller than those we Engage, and even smaller than those we Equip. This development process continues as we provide these coaches with the authority, resources, encouragement, and investment to lead various portions of our ministry. These are the coaches who lead team huddles, multi-sport huddles, coaches huddles, and more. We Empower intensively. Many of our sports chaplains and character coaches have progressed through the same Engage, Equip, and Empower process.

Further, I surmised that the commodities that push one through the process are spiritual hunger and depth of relationship. The hungry coach, just engaged will express the desire to be equipped (if we are listening), and we invest more time in him or her. Once equipped and still hungry, we can approach the coach about being empowered to serve his colleagues, team, families, and community. Our job is to perceive hunger and offer to feed it with time, energy, and resources.

My colleague and friend, Bob Pankey, took my crude illustration and improved it significantly. It is below and attached. It very well graphically describes the process and the factors that animate it. Thanks, Bob, for your contribution to the development of this concept. Please give this some thought and let me know what you think. Thanks.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Discipleship Processes and Resources

During an Illinois (USA) FCA staff meeting one of our colleagues was asking about our best tools for developing the sportspeople we serve in developing Christian discipleship. We talked about specific books, videos, and other resources, but no one had a simple, clear, game plan for holistic Christian discipleship development.
Later in the day, I realized that I had been given such a tool by my mentor, Fred Bishop of No Greater Love Ministries, back in the 1980s. We who grew up in Fred’s ministry were well drilled in Pray, Study, Fellowship, and Witness. For our use in FCA, I have updated the language a little for a more secularized audience, and have shaped these timeless spiritual disciplines into a two page document with lots of flexibility for anyone to insert his or her favorite resources into the process.

The premise is simple. We have a vertical relationship with our Lord through prayer and study. We have a horizontal relationship with other people through Christian community with other believers, and sharing our faith with those not yet committed to Christ. The stronger our vertical relationship is, the greater shadow it casts in the world. If our relationship with the Lord is weakened, our influence with those around us is diminished.

The first page simply serves as a road map, asking where shall we begin the process of development. The second page offers processes and resources for growth as a follower of Christ Jesus. One can insert his or her favorite resources into the processes as they fit.

I hope this simple form is of value to you and to those whom you serve.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Lineup of Sports Chaplain / Character Coach calls for 2018-2019

Below is a listing of the upcoming Sports Chaplain / Character Coach calls for 2018-2019. Please plan to join us live, or watch this blog for recordings of each. 

September 2018 Sports Chaplains Conference Call

Please click on the link below to access the recording of the September, 2018 Sports Chaplain / Character Coach conference call.

September 2018 Sports Chaplains Call