Listen With Your Eyes

A few years ago I attended a conference in Miami for my day job. While at the conference there were the usual main sessions and breakouts. During one of the main sessions the keynote speaker said something that really struck me as both a father and a children’s pastor. He talked about his job experience, his wife and his kids. It was while he talked about something that one of his daughters said , that he struck me with a mighty blow. She said, “Daddy, could you listen to me with your eyes and not just with your ears.” I nearly broke down in tears right then. How many times have I been doing something and have one of my kids walk up and want to talk to me? How often do I continue working while half listening to what they were saying? More times than I care to admit.

Honestly, I am capable of hearing what he is saying while continuing to work, but that’s not the point. I consider myself a family man; the type that puts my family ahead of my worldly pursuits. However, in that moment I am telling my son that whatever I am doing is more important than him. In my mind I may be thinking that what I am doing is more important than what he is saying. This may be true as he most often wants to talk about cartoons or video games, but that’s not the point. In that moment the message I am sending my son is that whatever I am doing is more important than HIM. I could cry now thinking of the times I have done this while working, or worse, while watching TV. I fear that my son may already think that I don’t have time to listen to him, or that these other things are more important than he is.

The problem isn’t so much that I don’t know everything that my son wants to tell me about Pokeman or Mindcraft. The problem is, if I don’t listen when he talks to me about these things then he may not talk to me about the important things that come later. If I can’t listen with my eyes, and not just my ears at this stage of life, then I may give up the chance to listen when he is facing things that can have a much greater impact on his life. When I attended this conference my son was only 8 years old. Now he is 13. How quickly the time passes. How quickly I have forgotten the lesson I learned at that conference. Still, there is time for me, and for him. Regardless of how old your children are be sure that you are listening with your eyes. If your children are young like mine then you are in luck, but even if your children are teenagers, or adults it is never too late to start practicing this.

This thought also applies to ministry. If we are not listening with our eyes when the children in our ministries are talking, then we will very quickly loose the privilege. Our own children may be willing to cut us some slack, but we may only have a couple of opportunities to get this right with the children in our ministry. Children have a way of looking past the facades we put up. They can tell who really cares about them and who is just pretending. If you don’t listen with your eyes, then you will quickly tell them that you don’t really care.

So, I would ask you – are you listening with your eyes? To your own children? To the children in your ministry? To your spouse?


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Why Are Dads So Dumb?

Before I go any further let me remind you that I am both a man and a father. This may be why this topic bothers me so much. I’m not talking about real dads. I’m talking about TV and movie dads. Why are so many of them simply so stupid?

My least favorite movie. Some years ago Nicholas Cage starred in a movie called Razing Arizona. I disliked this movie, and Cage’s character, so much that I wouldn’t watch any movie that he was in for years. This character was a father, but he was not a good one. He was not what I would consider a strong man. He simply irritated me. Unfortunately, this character is just one of many that have come to characterize the typical TV or movie dad.

Bob the bug man. Disney has a fairly innocent show called, Good Luck Charlie. The show is actually quite cute and I have often enjoyed watching it with my kids. But, the dad, Bob, is portrayed as barely capable of walking upright, much less leading his family. The intent of this character is probably simply to be funny. He is goofy and often quite funny, but what is the effect?

Al the shoe salesman. When I was a teenager there was a very popular TV so called Married With Children. The patriarch of this family was one Al Bundy. Al was a miserable man who was far more interested in watching TV that in being a father to his children or a husband to his wife. His wife was little more than an aggravation to him. His children were the same.

Why does it matter? We live in a day where many fathers have little to do with their children. In many cases these children don’t live with their fathers. Still many DO live with their kids, but have virtually no connection with them. Furthermore, we are seeing a generation of kids with less and less respect for their parents and other authorities. I certainly don’t completely blame TV for this, but I do thing that there are images from these bad dads that are being place into the minds of children. These effect the way they interact with adults. Also, in the case of kids without a father present, these may be the only example of what a father is that they see. What image of fatherhood will they form based on this.

Maybe this is much ado about nothing. But, in a time when families are perhaps weaker than ever before, we need men to be strong fathers. We need images of good fathers. TV is not devoid of such fathers. Consider Little House on the Prairie  or The Braddy Bunch. Certainly these dads were not perfect, but they led their families and they loved their wives.

In a time when there are fewer good dads in our world and and even fewer in TV, I think it is time for the church to step up. Equip and encourage dads to be Godly men. Stand in the gap where dads are absent. Men, step it up. Be the dad and husband that God called you to be.


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A Story From My Favorite Site For Kidmin Volunteers

I originally wrote this post for Kidmin1124.com. This site was dedicated to equipping those that freely give of their time to minister to kids. While the site is still up and still filled with tons of great content, myself and the other members of that team have all been drawn in other directions. I thought that you all might benefit from this story. My passion for equipping other kidmin leaders has not changed. In fact, that’s part of why I write this blog. If there is something specific that I can help you with let me now. In the mean time, enjoy this post. I would also encourage you to check out kidmin1124.com. I assure you that you will find valuable content there.

Recently we hosted a meeting for local children’s ministry workers. The meeting was scheduled to start at 9:00. At 9:05 my wife and I were the only ones there. I looked at her and asked, “When do we give up?” She said 9:15. Anxiously I paced around the church glancing out the doors at the parking area, looking for someone to drive up. At 9:15 my wife called out that it was time to give up and clean up. As she said this I took one more look and saw a car pulling up. In this car was a young lady that I am going to call Misha. Misha is a 22 year old woman that is leading the children’s ministry at a church in my home town. As we talked I found that Misha also leads worship at her church while, single handedly leading the children’s church. So, she leads worship, then runs over to the children’s church, teaches the lesson, being sure to end in enough time to get back to the worship center for the invitation.

As I met with Misha I learned that she kinda fell into the position of Children’s Ministry Director. She started off as a helper and progressed to leading children’s church on alternating weekends. Then, when the previous director experienced health problems, she stepped up to lead the whole thing. Shortly after that she was shocked to see her name listed in the bulletin as the Children’s Ministry director.

Misha came to know Christ through the children’s ministry that she now leads. This happened even though her parents were not attending this, or any other church. In fact it was years later that her parents came to know Christ. Misha has a strong passion for reaching children for Christ, but feels ill equipped for the job. She longs to be a better leader and see the children’s ministry that she leads grow. More importantly she longs to see children come to know Christ and to see lives changed

I think that Misha represents children’s ministry leaders and workers in churches all over America. Many of us “fell” into children’s ministry. Many of us started feeling ill equipped for the massive job we were asked to do. Many of us still feel this way.

Misha, and others like her are the reason Kidmin1124 exists.

Misha may never attend Bible College. She may never get to go to a large national conference like CPC, Kidmin, or Orange. She may serve her entire life and never be paid for what she does. This is the very essence of Kidmin1124. Proverbs 11:24 says, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more…” This is Kidmin1124.

This site exists to give people like Misha the tools they need to do what God has called them to do. However, God has revealed a vision that goes far beyond a simple blog. Stay tuned as I share some of the things that I believe God has planned for Kidmin1124 in the future. Then hold on as we work to follow God wherever he wants to take this.


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Creative By Nature

When we think of creativity, we often think of people like Leonardo DaVinci or Pablo Picasso. Maybe you think of George Lucas or Gene Roddenberry. Or maybe it’s people like Harley Earl who influenced automotive design from the 1940s through the 1960s; including designing the very first Corvette. Maybe you think of musicians like The Beatles or Jimmy Hendrix. Maybe you even think of people like skateboard legend Tony Hawk. Whoever comes to mind, chances are you would not compare your creative potential to theirs. I would argue that, if you are a Christian your creative potential is not only equal to that of these creative geniuses, but perhaps even greater.

Genesis 1:27 states,
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female he created them.”

This verse tells us that we are created in the very image of God. The one who created everything made us in HIS OWN IMAGE. The one that dreamed up sunsets before there was a sun, saw beautiful landscapes before there was land, and saw amazing animals before there were any; the one that put the stars in the heavens and the fish in the seas; the one that formed us from dust and breathed into us, giving us life created us. We were created in the image of the one who created all that we see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. The world may try to tell us that only select people, like the ones listed above, have great creative potential. This passage shows that we all have the creative nature of God within us. Whether you are male or female, young or old, Christian or not you are creative. Whether you clean toilets or engineer airplanes, you are creative. Whether you work for NASA, for an art gallery, or for McDonald’s, you are creative.

Being created in the image of God gives all humans great creative potential. However, Christians have something that takes this potential even further, the Holy Spirit. In Judges Chapters 14 and 15 we see where the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson and he killed a lion with his bare hands and later killed 1000 men with the jaw bone of a donkey. In the first chapter of Matthew we see where Mary was, “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” When Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit, “descended like a dove and lighted on him.” In Matthew chapter 12 we see where Jesus casts out demons through the power of the Holy Spirit. You probably get the point that amazing things can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 4:1 is says that Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Luke 4:13 says, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:8 says, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Finally, in Acts 2:3-5 we see where the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples.

In these passages we see that there is great power in the Holy Spirit. We see that Jesus was filled with Holy Spirit and did miraculous things. We see where Jesus promised the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit and that they would receive power when the Spirit came. Then we read about the Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost and the amazing things the disciples did on that day.  When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the disciples, He was not talking only to them, He was talking to us. So, if you are a Christian, then you have the Holy Spirit living in you.

So, let’s recap. As human beings we were created in the very image of the one who created everything. As such we are creative by nature. As Christians we are infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. As such we are powerful. Together these two facts combine to make for a person that is powerfully creative. That person is YOU! Remember that next time the world tries to convince you that you are not creative. Remember that next time you hit a brick wall creatively. Remember that next time you find yourself thinking that you don’t have what it takes to do what God has called you to do. Remember you are Powerfully Creative!


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Keys To Successful Calendar Planning

It’s that time of year. Certainly there is still plenty of this year left, but we are already looking to next year. So, now’s a good time to take a step back and give some thought to this process before we jump into it. Let’s look at some keys to success as you plan your ministry calendar.

Why? This is a question that simply doesn’t get asked often enough. Everything we do needs to have a purpose. This isn’t to say that every event has to have the same purpose, but they all need to have SOME purpose. Now is a great time to stop and think, “Why do we do events?” Before you even start thinking about what sort of events you want to do, think about what you want to accomplish with these events. Some events may be evangelistic, designed to give opportunities to share the gospel in your community. Some may be designed to give your kids a chance to invite their friends. Some may be to build relationships among the kids in your ministry. Whatever the purpose, you need to think of all the things you want to accomplish through events next year, BEFORE you start planning events.

Look back. Take a look back at this past year and previous years. What worked, what didn’t? What could be done different to make some of these past events successful? What things did we want to do but couldn’t. Look back at what you have done in the past and learn form it.

Families are busy. I hate this truth as much as the next person, but families are busier than ever before. Often times in ministry our tendency is to want to fill up the schedule. But, are we really serving the families in our church by adding more and more things to their calendar? I do think that we need to have events and we need to encourage parents to make the choice for their kid to be at some of these events over whatever else they may have planned. BUT, there is value in many of these extracurricular activities. It was my involvement in and enjoyment off band that got me through high school. We should not be afraid to schedule things, but we do need to keep in mind the busy schedules of so many families these days.

Always add value. A few years ago I was deeply hurt when a very active family left the church I was serving in at the time. Nothing bad happened. They were not angry. It wasn’t at all like that. It simply came down to the fact that they were driving close to 40 minutes each way to attend church. With ever rising gas prices they made the decision to find a church closer to home. If their leaving wasn’t about me why did it hurt so much? While I did not make them leave, I also didn’t give them a good reason to stay. You see they had two boys in my ministry. I know parents and I know them well enough to know that the drive would have not been an issue if they had seen enough value for their boys in the ministry I led. As parents we will go out of the way for our kids, IF WE THINK IT IS WORTH IT. So, as we plan events we need to ensure that we are adding value, not simply seeking to fill a schedule.

Bring families together. Not every event has to be a family event. After all parents do appreciate an occasional break from their kids. But, we do need to plan events that bring families together. Give families an opportunity to play TOGETHER. This is more than simply inviting parents to an event that is actually for the kids. Plan activities at some of your events that put parents and kids playing together.

What about you? What are some of the keys that you consider when planning your ministry calendar?


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